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Legendary Hairstylist Vidal Sassoon Dies at 84

Leslie Velez |
May 9, 2012 | 9:19 p.m. PDT

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Image courtesy Flickr Creative Commons and Lloyd Davis
Image courtesy Flickr Creative Commons and Lloyd Davis
Vidal Sassoon, hairstylist who pioneered the bob and wash-and-wear cuts in the 1960s, died today at the age of 84 at his home in Los Angeles.  Sassoon suffered a lengthy battle with leukemia.

Born in Hammersmith, London, Sassoon took to his Jewish roots at the age of 17, fighting against anti-semitism and later in the Arab-Israeli War, which began in 1948 after Israel became a state.

Sassoon opened his first salon in 1954 in London and soon became famous for creating short, geometric hairstyles that freed women from weekly visits to the hair salon and high-maintenance styles.  He retained the discipline and edge that came natural to someone who had grown up in the violence of war.

New York Times:

He was known to carry a knife and once showed up bloodied to his apprenticeship at a barber shop in the ghetto...The stylists who worked under him knew this very well. “He was crazy,” one said. Bad haircuts would be mercilessly criticized, and stylists who showed up to work without their shoes shined would be sent home.

Reuters:

"Hairdressing in general hasn't been given the kudos it deserves," Sassoon told Reuters in 2010. "It's not recognized by enough people as a worthy craft."

He gained even greater fame with his hair style for Mia Farrow in 1967 film, "Rosemary's Baby," and the term "a Sassoon" became part of the fashion lexicon in Europe and America.

In 1982, Vidal Sassoon, Inc. was sold to Procter & Gamble.  The company put his name on hair care products, shampoos, and conditioners along with the slogan, “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good;” legal issues arose later between Sassoon and the multi-national manufacturing giant when Sassoon accused Procter & Gamble of neglecting his brand.  

Sassoon was married four times in his lifetime.  In addition to his business empire, he penned an autobiography, a memoir titled “Sorry I Kept You Waiting, Madam,” and several other books; was the subject of a feature length documentary, 

“Vidal Sassoon the Movie;” and was named by Queen Elizabeth in 2009 as  Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

He is survived by his wife and three children and grandchildren.

 



 

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