Vidal Sassoon’s legacy is a truly “Rags to Riches” story.
Vidal was born into poverty in London’s East End in 1928 and by the time of his death in Los Angeles, in 2012 he owned a multi million dollar international corporation.
His father left the family when he was 3 years of age, his mother was then evicted so begged a Jewish orphanage to take him, which is where he lived from the age of 5 until he was 11 when war broke out and he was evacuated. When he was 14 he came back to London and got a job as a glove cutter, then another job as a messenger boy, riding his bike around war torn London.
After the war he secured a 2 year apprenticeship in a small hairdressers shop in Whitechapel as a shampoo boy. He tried to gain employment at “Raymond’s” hairdressers(stylist to the stars of the time) but was turned away because of his cockney accent, later to return after 3years of elocution lessons.
In 1954 he opened his own small salon in Bond Street, London, with only 8 clients on the first day. He was doing traditional hairdressing with curls and back combing to give it shape but he wasn’t content, he wanted to be creative and spent the next few years trying out new styles that were sleek, cut at angles and geometrically pleasing to the eye after studying the bone structure of each face. Vidal worked hard, often 14 hours a day perfecting his skills, a lot of his inspiration came from architecture with its defined shapes.
Two years later he moved to bigger premises in Bond Street and changed the appearance completely of the traditional salon, it looked more like an art gallery than a hair salon, open plan with large windows down to the floor, from outside you could see ladies having there hair styled, something quite unheard of at that time. He had large pictures on the wall of different hair cuts that could be seen from the street.
In 1957 the fashion designer Mary Quant stopped to view the pictures then walked in to make an appointment to have her hair cut. That was the beginning of a long friendship and working collaboration between two designers, one of fashion and one of hairdressing.
Vidal received a call from a film company asking him to cut the film star Nancy Kwan’s hair. Her hair was 4ft long when she entered his salon and cut into one of his famous geometric shapes when she came out but not before she had been photographed. That photo went on the cover of Vogue magazine in England, USA and Italy then in all the newspapers.
Vidal cut the fashion models hair, Grace Coddington into his famous 5 point cut which appeared on Queen magazine in 1960. Later in 1968 he cut Mia Farrow’s hair for her staring role in the film Rosemary’s Baby. Goldie Hawn’s hair was cut into a bob cut in 1969 by Vidal.
He opened the Vidal Sassoon Master Academy, youngsters came from all over Europe to attend, then from Africa, Japan and the Far East to learn how to cut hair from the master.
During 1965 he open a salon in Maddison Avenue, New York and spent the next 10years traveling between London and New York. 1973 saw the launch of his products range, being the first stylist to bring hair products to the High Street, they soon went global. He later moved to Los Angeles where he settled, although he regularly came back to Great Britain.
The Queen awarded him a CBE in 2009 shortly before he was diagnosed with Leukaemia, which was to claim his life in 2012.
I hope you have found this interesting.
Love Betty …..X