“Mother always knows best,” the oft-repeated axiom goes, and nothing could be truer than this for Vidal Sassoon. At the age of fourteen, per his mother’s urging, he dropped out of school to begin an apprenticeship as a hairdresser.
“I thought I’d be a soccer player but my mother said I should be a hairdresser, and, as often happens, mother got her way,” he told the AP in 2007.
Sassoon opened his first salon in 1954, and nine years later, in 1963, by adding angular cuts and cutting away “everything that was superfluous,” he revolutionized the way women—and the world—viewed hair.
The women’s liberation movement set in motion the rise in popularity of the wash-and-wear hairstyles. No longer were women spending their days under the dryer, or in the kitchen; women were assuming their own power, and needed a hairstyle that would accommodate such a lifestyle.
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.
Later in 1973, Branded with his moniker and the slogan, “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good,” Sassoon launched his hair product line. It was in that same year that he launched the Vidal Sassoon Academies.
It was in 1982 that he launched the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, an inter-disciplinary research center for anti-Semitism. More than 120 studies have been conducted under the Center’s auspices, covering a wide range of disciplines — history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, literature, and art.
In 2010, a feature-length documentary was released about Sassoon’s life, career, and influence on fashion and culture. It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City in 2010, and to much acclaim was picked as an Official Selection that year.
And now, in 2012, Vidal Sassoon leaves behind a legacy and an all encompassing body of work that has forever changed the beauty industry.
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