Wednesday 9th May marked a sad day, not just for the hairdressing industry but for the masses as world renowned coiffeur to the stars Vidal Sassoon lost his courageous battle with leukaemia at the age of eighty-four. Many celebrities and established hairdressers paid their tributes via Twitter to the visionary icon that was Sassoon, while commemorative headlines of the news soared like wildfire, showcasing the impact his life achievements had on so many.
Born to Jewish parents in 1928, Sassoon spent seven years in an orphanage after his father abandoned his family. Then came a streak in the Israeli army fighting the war of independence, being the youngest member in the 43 Group. When he returned he followed his mother’s advice, not his own dream, and took upon the scissors. His first stint in hairdressing was with Raymond “Mr Tweasey-Weasey” Bessone, before opening his first very own Bond Street salon in 1958. This marked the beginning of what would be the innovative path that countless hairdressers to come would follow.
Most widely recognised for being the inventor of the notorious Bauhaus inspired ‘wedge-bob’ haircut, a style that is still commonly worn by women today, his creations prove timeless. A hair cut that would change society as it stood. Having first cut the style on mod fashion designer and inventor of the mini skirt Mary Quant, the pair became a force to be reckoned with in the sixties. Sassoon took the worked bouncy beehive looks of the era, and transformed them into low maintenance, geometric and simplistic cuts way ahead of his time.
Sassoon’s empire soon grew, boasting a network of training academies, a vast range of hair products and salons around the globe that we see today. The multi million-dollar industry lead to him being awarded a CBE for his achievements in 2009. Through all of this, he remained a charming man, handling his success with a certain humble pride seen by those close to him.
Vidal Sassoon salons’ slogan “if you don’t look good, we don’t look good”, reflected his enthusiasm for wanting to liberate women. The satisfaction he got from hairdressing was the way people felt after a haircut; the instantaneous transformation of their state of mind. He believed in carving a cut in a personal way, keeping the clients bone structure and face shape in mind to create a look that complemented each and every individual. He wasn’t just a hairdresser; he was an artist and a revolutionary.
Vidal Sassoon, we salute you.
Written by Grace Williams