Friday, August 20, 2010

Style Setters: Vidal Sassoon

Sassoon was born on born January 17, 1928 in Hammersmith, London. His father was from Salonica in Greece, and his mother, whose family was originally from Kiev, was born in London. Vidal Sassoon spent six years in a Jewish orphanage in London after his father abandoned the family. When his mother remarried, the family re-united. Although too young to serve in the Second World War, Sassoon became a member of the 43 Group, a Jewish veterans' militia organization that broke up Fascist meetings in East London after the end of the war. In 1948 he joined the Israeli Defense Forces to fight in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

He had no interest in hair until he was 14, when his mother suggested he apply for a job sweeping floors at a salon. After dropping out of high school, Sassoon worked under Raymond of Mayfair, who was the most famous celebrity hairstylist of the 1950s. When Sassoon started his own salon, it soon spawned the trendiest looks of the 1960s. Sassoon invented the "bob" look in 1963, and pioneered geometric hairdos in 1966. He was paid $5,000 to fly across the Atlantic and create Mia Farrow's crew cut for the film, Rosemary's Baby.

Sassoon's works include the geometric perm and the "Nancy Kwan" hairstyles. They were all modern and low-maintenance. The hairstyles created by Sassoon relied on dark, straight, and shiny hair cut into geometric yet organic shapes.

In 1963, Sassoon created a short, angular hairstyle cut on a horizontal plane that was the recreation of the classic "bob cut." His geometric haircuts seemed to be severely cut, but were entirely lacquer-free, relying on the natural shine of the hair for effect. Sassoon has been a key force in the commercial direction of hair styling.

By the early 1980s, after moving to the United States, Sassoon had sold his name to manufacturers of hair care products and the multinational Procter & Gamble was applying his name to shampoos and conditioners sold worldwide. Former salon colleagues also bought Sassoon's salons and acquired the right to use his name, extending the brand in salons into the United Kingdom and United States. However, in 2003, Sassoon sued Procter & Gamble in the Federal Court alleging that P&G was destroying his brand by skimping on marketing in favor of the company's other hair product lines, notably Pantene. However, the suit was settled to their mutual satisfaction before trial.

Also in 2002, the chain of Vidal Sassoon salons was sold to Regis Corporation. By 2004, it was reported that he was no longer associated with the brand that bears his name. Vidal Sassoon has authored several books, including A Year of Beauty and Health, co-written with his former wife, Beverly Sassoon. He was the official hairstylist of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and he hosted Your New Day, a stylish television show in the 1980s. He's the author of Cutting Hair the Vidal Sassoon Way.

 In 1982, Sassoon started the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism, or SICSA, a research centre devoted to the non-political, interdisciplinary gathering of information about anti-Semitism. Sassoon was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honors.

When living in the east end, as a younger man he was briefly engaged to Jean Fay who was his junior in a 'top' London salon.

In 1967, Vidal Sassoon married Beverly Adams. They had four children, including an adopted son. The couple divorced in 1980. He is now married to Rhonda Sassoon.

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