Last week saw the passing of three legends: storyteller and artist, Maurice Sendak, muscle car creator Carroll Shelby, and Vidal Sassoon, hairdresser and trendsetter. My first job was with Mary Quant. Vidal Sassoon was as much part of the Sixties as Mary, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Bridget Bardot, Mia Farrow, and for me, JFK, Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol. Mary wrote a tribute to Vidal in the Daily Mail:
Vidal Sassoon revolutionised the way women thought about their hair. Before Vidal, they just had a ‘hairdo’. Then Vidal invented cut and style. He was a visionary. He didn’t do perms and sets. He saw that, like architecture — for which he had a passion — hair could be cut into bold, unfussy, structured shapes.
Vidal not only created the most famous and important of his cuts, the ‘five-point’ — which became my trademark — but he went on to develop more and more innovative variations. Asymmetric or ‘en brosse’, I enjoyed them all, as so many of us did.
Sassoon also liberated women from the tyranny of hours spent par-boiling under the bonnet of a hairdryer, with fat rollers skewered to their scalps.
We found the freedom to swim in the sea, drive in an open-top car, walk in the rain and then just slick our head under a tap and shake it to look good again.
As well as being a creative genius, Vidal Sassoon was a formative figure of the Sixties. Along with the Pill and the mini-skirt, his influence was truly liberating.
As a hair stylist he has legions of protégés and millions of imitators. His influence remains ubiquitous; he was, quite simply, an inspiration to everyone around him.