6 December 2023

Vidal Sassoon: the legend lives on

A revolutionary and groundbreaking innovator loved and admired by all on his quest in search of freedom for his art, for women, and – most of all – for hair.

Probably the most famous and best-loved international hairstylists in the world has finally left the stage. Vidal Sassoon finally succumbed the leukemia he had long been suffering from at his home in Bel Air in Los Angeles, surrounded by his loved ones. His career spanned the second half of the past century and he left his mark on the entire world, and not only in hairdressing.

The son of Jewish immigrants, Vidal had a difficult childhood and adolescence, even spending a few years in an orphanage before finally finding a job in a hairdressing salon. This was merely the beginning, as the once-aspiring architect assimilated the influences of the Bauhaus and minimalist schools of design and soon began applying these concepts in his salon. He is known to have declared, “If I was going to be in hairdressing, I wanted to change things.” And change things he did, transforming women’s hair from teased pompadours to his geometric “wash-and-wear” cuts that were so precisely shaped that a toss of the head would suffice for it to fall back into place. An artistic revolution that fell into line with the feminist movement and women setting out on fast track careers that left little time to sit under hairdryers.

Not only an artist, but also an entrepreneur on the cutting edge of globalisation, by 1964 he had gone international, opening his first salon in New York, soon to be followed by sister salons in Toronto and in Beverly Hills, and his first hairdressing school, in London. In 1973, he launched his hair-care products for the trade market and by the mid-1970s owned 14 salons and schools in the US, Canada, Britain and Germany.

So, although it may sound cliché, today we are not so much mourning his death as celebrating his life. A long and prosperous life. A life spent doing what he loved best and excelled in. A rich life full of …well, living. Legends never die.

In lieu of flowers the family has requested that memorial donations be sent to American Friends of The Hebrew University in support of The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism – 11500 W. Olympic Boulevard, Suite 512 LA CA 90064 or www.afhu.org. A service will be planned at a later date.


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