Saturday, 12 May 2012

Vidal Sassoon: the man who revolutionised hairstyling

Vidal Sassoon, who died this week at the age of 84, revolutionised hair styling with his liberating wash and wear cuts. His sleek and simple geometric cuts relieved the new generation from the rigid, high maintenance beehive of the 1950s. Once Vidal had created the iconic Mary Quant bob in 1963, hair stylists never looked back.

Brought up as a young Jewish boy in a tough area of London, Vidal was handed to an orphanage for seven years by his mother who lacked the sufficient finances to support a child. In a battle against anti-Semitism Vidal became the youngest member of the 43 Group which battled with Oswald Mosely's anti-Semitic gang and in 1948 he fought in the Israeli war of independence. However, this is not why we remember Sassoon.

From the moment he styled Mary Quant's mop, Vidal was hailed by dolly-birds as the new modern hairdresser. Those who went to Vidal expected a 'Vidal cut'. Sassoon's clients soon included many of the young models and film stars of the day from Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton to Cilla Black and Mia Farrow.

Sassoon re-established hairdressing as an art form, rather than just a trade. He described it as a method of sculpture and architecture, carving shapes that compliment bone structure. By 1964 the stylist had been put on the international spectrum with a salon in New York and within five years Sassoon had established salons in Toronto and Beverly Hills and a hairdressing school in London.

In 1973, Sassoon spawned a collection of products which established Vidal Sassoon as a household name. Though by 1975 Sassoon had stopped cutting hair, his legacy continued in television adverts and his extensive range of products.

Despite his death, Vidal Sassoon's timeless cuts will continue to influence the way hair is styled for many generations to come.