Vidal Sassoon, British-born celebrity hairdresser, dies
- 10 May 2012
- From the section US & Canada
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.