Today we mourn the passing of Vidal Sassoon the genius hairdresser and creator of the ‘bob’. He was found dead of natural causes in his LA home today, the AP is reporting. He had reportedly been fighting leukemia since 2009.
He became the most famous hairdresser of the 1960s, creating styles that caught and then boosted women’s new feelings of personal freedom. In doing so, he changed the craft of hair styling forever.
Before Sassoon and his three-storey, glass-fronted Bond Street salon arrived, women were piling their hair up in “beehives” that were back-combed and lacquered into a consistency of candy floss: the fashionable stylist of the day was Raymond Bessone, “Mr Teasy-Weasy”. Sassoon transformed women’s hair with his geometric “wash-and-wear” cuts, so carefully shaped that a woman could shake her head and the style would fall back into place. And she needed a cut only once every six weeks, instead of the tortuous weekly visits that had been de rigueur until then.
Sassoon’s client list soon included most of the young models and film stars of the day – including Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, Terence Stamp and Mia Farrow, notably for her look in Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – as well as most of London’s fashionistas.
Although hairdressing was the trade that took Sassoon from a tenement block in the city’s East End to a house in Beverly Hills and a considerable fortune, he was much more than a clever crimper. He was also a militant Zionist – though not a religious Jew – who at 17 joined the Jewish ex-servicemen of the 43 Group movement in street battles against Sir Oswald Mosley’s fascists in London, and in 1948 went to Israel and joined the army there, fighting in the new nation’s independence war.
Both experiences gave him a lifelong passion for human rights, and he later financed the Vidal Sassoon International Centre for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Rest in peace Vidal Sassoon.