05/11/12 - 0 Comments
Remembering Vidal Sassoon: Legend, Pioneer, Innovator
It was with sadness that we learned of the passing of world-renowned hairdressing pioneer Vidal Sassoon, who died Wednesday morning of natural causes in California. The 84-year-old lost his battle with leukemia, but will always remain an iconic figure who absolutely changed the face of fashion and hair styles–a true embodiment of the swinging sixties. We take a look back at Sassoon’s life and career.
Sassoon was an English boy born in 1928. After his father left the family, his mother put him in a Jewish orphanage outside of London. After seven years, he began his journey through the land of hair when he became a hairdresser’s apprentice.
“I thought I’d be a soccer player, but my mother said I should be a hairdresser, and, as often happens, the mother got her way,” said Sassoon in 2007 to the Associated Press.
He opened his first salon in London in 1954, but it took him nine years to forge the talent that would thrust him headfirst into the glamour and innovation that was London in the 1960s. In 1963 he created his first angular bob cut, and his place as one of the world’s greatest and most exciting hairdressers was secured. Mary Quant, a British designer who popularized the miniskirt, helped draw attention to the new cut – after all, she herself was also a frontrunner for keeping things short with women.
“My idea was to cut shape into the hair, to use it like fabric and take away everything that was superfluous,” said Sassoon in a 1993 interview with the Los Angeles Times. “Women were going back to work. They were assuming their own power. They didn’t have time to sit under the dryer anymore.”
Not only did his encouragement for the women’s liberal movement help spread his name worldwide, but this also drastically increased his celebrity clientele. The $5,000 haircut he gave to actress Mia Farrow in 1968 for the film Rosemary’s Baby helped Sassoon achieve international fame and recognition. This was the new pixie cut; modern and edgy, it was a piece of art made only from hair and scissors.
After that, his career skyrocketed. Sassoon was able to launch his own line of hair care products with the slogan “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.” He created stylist schools, supported music and performing arts centers throughout Los Angeles (his new home since the 1970s) and has written three books. Director Craig Tepper created the 2010 documentary Vidal Sassoon: The Movie to commemorate Sassoon’s works.
There is no doubt that Vidal Sassoon will be remembered as a figurehead of fashion and fashionable locks, a man who revolutionized women’s hair and, by doing so, also revolutionized their lives. He was one of the few that understood that a woman’s beauty had to be attainable while working a “man’s schedule.” He created the bob and the pixie cut, both favoured by many celebrities today. Most of all though, he embodied a legend that will last for years and years to come.