Vidal Sassoon, the hairstyling genius responsible for overhauling the tease and set styles of the ‘50s, passed away in his Los Angeles home early this morning. Sassoon, who had styled such iconic manes as Twiggy, Mia Farrow and Mary Quant, has been hailed as the visionary who introduced “ready-to-wear” hair to women around the globe, and transformed the role of hair cutter into hair stylist. Sassoon had been battling leukemia since 2006.
Sassoon started his journey at the age of 14, when he worked washing hair and mixing hair colour. In 1954, he opened his own salon and spent the next nine years perfecting his hair cutting techniques and styles. In 1963 he earned the title “the founder of modern hairdressing” for the revolutionary bob and five-point cut, styles that stood in stark contrast to the beehive and bouffant that had preceded his esthetic. Hilary Alexander, fashion director of the Daily Telegraph, tweeted “Much sadness on death of the architect of hair, Vidal Sassoon. He banished the beehive, boosted the bob; most radical hair shift since 1920s.”
Sassoon explained his creative thinking behind this shift saying, “My idea was to cut shape into the hair, to use it like fabric and take away everything that was superfluous… Women were going back to work, they were assuming their own power. They didn’t have time to sit under the dryer anymore.”
It was Sassoon who was famously paid $5,000 (or so the story goes) to give Mia Farrow a pixie cut—the same pixie cut that her husband at the time, Frank Sinatra, didn’t like—for her role in Rosemary’s Baby. Today, you can still see Sassoon’s influence in the young Hollywood starlet set, including Winona Ryder, Michelle Williams and Emma Watson—women who fearlessly rock Sassoon-inspired looks and prove that short hair can be uber sexy with the right cut.
Sam McKnight: “Thank you, #vidalsassoon for paving the way. RIP.” [Twitter]
Erin O’Connor: “RIP Vidal Sassoon. Inspired so many, myself included.” [Vogue UK]
Nicky Clarke: “He was part of that drive of modernism. He was very, very interested in modernism of all sorts…he just introduced all of that into hair. And at the same time he probably freed women of that weekly ritual of having their hair backcombed and being under a dryer…It depicted a whole new look of that time.” [ITV]
Lesa Hannah, beauty director: “I was lucky enough to be at the NYC premiere of Vidal Sassoon: The Documentary, where Vidal was in attendance. What I remember most about the experience was being in an audience jammed with hair stylists who were in complete and utter awe of the man who literally changed the rules of their industry.”