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.


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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  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Hair today, gone tomorrow, did he curl up and dye? Will there be a hi-lytes show. Humor too Sassoon?

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Yes you are right. Research shows that his father was not Siegried Sassoon but perhaps they are related in some way. Sassoon is not a common name. Shampoo and hair care is hugely important to some people, but what marks him out is that he made an absolute fortune (and gave some of it away).

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    he was a great man he once cut my hair and it cost more then just a pretty penny. I looked like the noel gallagher of the 60s and i look really swarve r.i.p to a great man

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    It would appear you have forgotten that the news sector have a duty to report all news articles and not just focus purely on one story. This is news - get over it. Sassoon was a true asset to Britain, he created a phenomenal impact in his industry and has held influence for decades. Even today you can still recognise a Sassoon cut. This is why the we are commenting, as tribute.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    As I understand it Vidal Sassoon did make a massive impact on what our streets looked like by his work and was a well known figure for decades so an obituary piece and marking his death seems appropriate for the BBC.

    But if you really want to question he resource used on irrelevant celebrity stories look no further than the article "Kunis helps save mans life" also on the main page today!

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    I've worn my hair in a bob for most of my life and only today realised who started the trend, RIP to a great British innovater.

    Could the less respectful comments please be removed moderators? They might be hurtful to his friends and family. Some of you ought to have a little more compassion and remember that news is actually about real people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Er ... perhaps we are commenting as the life of a British born self made man should be celebrated, its sad news but he is also part of what has made our country great, i just wish people would look at the positives of this country occasionally instead of being so bloofy negative all the time!

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    One of the very few people that I would assign the tag "genius" top. One of the most significant people to have ever been involved in fashion, and a person whos skill has shaped how the world sees an era, has died. He legacy will remain with us for generations to come.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Sad news. He made a difference to his industry - and thats why his death has made the headlines.
    @ 42. L A Odicean
    "I had no idea that there was a man called Vidal Sassoon. How sad that he has died. I thought it was just the name of a shampoo, (is there someone called Palm Olive?"
    No reason why you know him - maybe do some research before posting ?

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    First time in a while that someone "famous" died that I have heard of.
    Condolences to his family, but I'm not sure that being able to cut hair qualifies for all the fuss.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Seriously guys, this man was Britsh born, made an amazing life for himself through hard work and was given no handouts. Unlike alot of people today he did it all himself and lets not forget his work for anti-Semitism! Bit of respect here wouldn't go amiss! Some of these comments make me ashamed to be British!

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    I'll never forget the interview between Vidal and the TV generated "Max Headroom"
    Where Max came out with the classic line

    "So....... VD so soon"

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Those were the days all the teenage girls were being led by Sassoon and Quant which made them more appealing than todays teenage girls who I see at weekends smashed out their brains.

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    In 1984 I had a haircut called "The Firefly" which was totally out of style at the time and had to take the 'Vidal Sassoon Haircut' book to the hairdressers! I loved it and still love those wedge type haircuts now…

    I thought the bob originated in the 1920s but nevertheless, I don't underestimate the influence Vidal Sassoon had on fashion in the 1960s for both men and women.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    I feel sad for all of the posters on this site who comment that 'more important people have died', or there are more important things to be reported by the BBC. It is nice to get away from all of the boring, mundane economic news or reports of 'disturbances' elsewhere. Let's try and remember that Britain has a history and people such as Vidal Sassoon were as iconic as the Beatles in the 60s.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    This is the second time todayI've heard that Sassoon was the creator of the bob. He was a great, inspirational even iconoclastic designer, but I'm sure he wasn't around in the 1920s cutting Louise Brooks' hair.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    @39 & 40
    Let's not forget that Dior was just a frock maker.

    Vidal Sassoon had a vision and he achieved it, not everyone can say that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Vidal Sasoon, Mary Quant, the geometric cut, mini skirts, Carnaby Street, the Beatles, the Avengers... Happy memories!


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