Hairstylist Vidal Sassoon Was Fashion Revolutionary

The British hairstylist who rode the Mod scene in London to international fame and fortune has died. Vidal Sassoon created the short, angular haircuts that became a rage in the 1960's. His personality and fashion sense helped him create a hair care empire.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The beauty industry has lost one of its titans. The hair stylist Vidal Sassoon died today at his home in Los Angeles after suffering an undisclosed illness. He was 84. NPR's Neda Ulaby has this remembrance.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: Vidal Sassoon was emblematic of an era.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHE LOVES YOU")

THE BEATLES: (Singing) She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah. She loves you...

ULABY: The Swinging Sixties, Carnaby Street, Mod London. The proper look for the well-dressed bird was a miniskirt from Mary Quant, go-go boots, and an angular bob from Vidal Sassoon. He described its science in a documentary about himself from two years ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

VIDAL SASSOON: It was the last cut of geometry that in essence, covered the whole head.

ULABY: One of the most elegant and influential stylists of the 20th century was born into abject poverty. His single mother put him into an orphanage at age 5 because she did not have the money to care for him. At 14, he went to work as a shampoo boy. But after World War II, Sassoon got serious about his Jewish heritage. He fought for Israel in 1948. When he got back, he took speech lessons to impress the glamorous clients he wanted, including movie stars.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ROSEMARY'S BABY")

JOHN CASSAVETES: (as Guy Woodhouse) What else was in that drink?

MIA FARROW: (as Rosemary Woodhouse) It's alive. Guy, it's moving.

ULABY: Mia Farrow's haircut in "Rosemary's Baby" made her huge eyes even bigger. Sassoon's five-point style was influenced, he said, by Bauhaus architecture, and made him a worldwide fashion brand. He opened beauty schools around the world and created hair care products reflecting his ethos: liberation from styling, wash and wear, blow and go.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMMERCIAL AD)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMEN: Thank you, Vidal.

SASSOON: If you don't look good, we don't look good.

ULABY: Later in life, Vidal Sassoon turned towards philanthropy. He founded the Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and became deeply involved in the plight of victims of Hurricane Katrina. Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.