Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Vidal Sassoon, R.I.P.

Vidal Sassoon was a hairdresser and you would be hard pressed to think of another hairdresser whose death would merit so much attention in both the serious newspapers as well as the tabloids. It is a fascinating story: Vidal  (1928 - 2012) was a tough London Jew brought up in such a poor family that his mother had to send him to an orphanage for seven years - in 1948 he went to fight in the Israeli war of independence and then he became one of the key figures of the 1960s and later a multi-millionaire and philanthropist as well as a man of great charm who certainly did it all in his 84 years, including 4 marriages.

He seized his moment in 1963 with his new hairstyle at his Mayfair salon (fashion designer Mary Quant above with the new bob cut) which revolutionised fashion as much as John Stephen or Ossie Clark, influencing how girls looked from the high street to high society. Like David Bailey and Hockney he became one of the '60s major stylists. An astute businessman as well, his shops and hair products became very successful global businesses, as he moved to New York and L.A. The Vidal cut joined The Beatles, Italian trattorias, Conran's Habitat, Quant's minidress as emblems of the swinging decade. Girls finally didn't have to have the same hairstyles as their mothers - all that backcombing and lacquer and hairpins and curlers, as for Vidal the cut was everything as he fashioned hair into geometric shapes and angles to complement the face. The rich and famous went to his salons but his cuts were imitated everywhere.

 I remember his '70s bestseller too: "A Year of Beauty and Health". A Peter Pan-like figure Sassoon kept forever youthful. His exercise and Pilates certainly worked keeping him fit into his 80s despite leukaemia. RIP to a true pioneer.

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