Vidal Sassoon, British-born celebrity hairdresser, dies

 

In 2010, Vidal Sassoon published his autobiography, and relived his most famous cuts

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British-born celebrity hairdresser Vidal Sassoon has died at his home in Los Angeles, aged 84.

A police spokesman said officers went to the stylist's home on Wednesday morning to confirm the death. He said Sassoon had died of natural causes.

Sassoon is regarded as one of the best-known hairdressers of his generation.

He is credited with revolutionising haircuts in the 1960s, and developed a popular line of hair products under his name.

The creator of the "bob" hairstyle, he was best known for his short, geometric cuts, the style which succeeded the bouffant styles trendy in the 1950s.

Analysis

His creative cuts helped dress a cultural revolution in the 1960s, and his products have had a place in the world's bathroom cabinets for decades.

Vidal Sassoon opened his first salon in London in 1954 and gave what he called "geometry" and "architectural shapes" to hair.

His styles freed women's fashion from the high and heavy "beehive" into cuts that were easy to manage.

The wash-and-wear styles like the bob cut fitted in with the emerging feminist movement.

"Women were going to work and assuming their own power," he famously said. "They didn't have time to sit under the dryer."

One of his best-known clients was Mary Quant, the British fashion designer who popularised the mini-skirt. Quant called Sassoon the "Chanel of hair".

"Vidal was an inspiration to everybody and always got at the vital point and was so explicit. You only had to think about his haircuts and shapes - he revolutionised the look and way of life for everyone," she said.

'Like Columbus'

In a tribute, fellow British coiffeur and friend Nicky Clarke said he was "hugely significant - the most iconic of hairdressers".

Before Sassoon's arrival on the scene, he said, "people were in rollers, backcombing their hair. What he bought was a different kind of hairdressing.

"It was all about modernism - in some ways he defined the 60s. He helped to put Britain on the map."

Clarke said Sassoon was a "humble person" who "loved his craft", and would be greatly missed.

Hairstylist Angus Mitchell, son of the late hairdresser Paul Mitchell, said that Sassoon's system for cutting hair transformed the industry.

"Vidal was like Christopher Columbus," Angus Mitchell, who studied under Sassoon, told the Associated Press.

"He discovered that the world was round with his cutting system. It was the first language that people could follow."

Four marriages

Vidal Sassoon was born to Jewish parents in west London in 1928.

His father left when he was five, and his mother had to put him and his brother into a Jewish orphanage because she could not afford to keep them.

In 1948, at the age of 20, he travelled to Israel to fight in the Arab-Israeli War.

Clothes designer Mary Quant, one of the leading lights of the British fashion scene in the 1960's, having her hair cut by another fashion icon, hairdresser Vidal Sassoon. Mary Quant called Sassoon the "Chanel of hair"

On his return to Britain, he began working for the famous hairstylist Teasy Weasy Raymond, in Mayfair, before opening his own salon in 1954.

"My idea was to cut shape into the hair, to use it like fabric and take away everything that was superfluous," Sassoon said in 1993 in an 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."

He also campaigned against anti-Semitism, establishing the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the 1980s.

His private life attracted as much publicity as his business success. He divorced three times and married his fourth wife in 1992.

 

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