Vidal Sassoon, CBE (born 17 January 1928) is a widely recognised British hairdresser, credited with creating a simple geometric, "Bauhaus-inspired" hair style, also called the bob. Due to the popularity of his styles, he has been described as "a rock star, an artist, [and] a craftsman who 'changed the world with a pair of scissors.'"
His "wash and wear" philosophy liberated women from the "tyranny of the salon" and "revolutionised the art of hairstyling." Sassoon's styles became "emblematic of freedom and good health," and their popularity allowed him to open the first chain of worldwide hair styling salons, complemented by his hair-treatment products. He is also remembered for his television commercials in the 1960s. A documentary film about his life, Vidal Sassoon: The Movie, was released in 2010.
Sassoon was born to Sephardic Jewish parents in Hammersmith, London. and lived in Shepherds Bush. His father, Jack Sassoon, was from Thessaloniki, Greece, and his mother, Betty, came from a family of immigrants from Spain. Sassoon had a younger brother, Ivor, who died from a heart attack at the age of 46. Jack Sassoon left his family when Vidal was three, as he was a womanizer and Vidal mentioned that his father spoke and made love in all the 7 languages he spoke .
Due to his mother's extreme poverty and now being a single parent, she was forced to place Sassoon and his younger brother in a Jewish orphanage, where they stayed for seven years. His mother was only allowed to visit them once a month and was never allowed to take them out. He attended Essendine Road Primary School, a Christian school, before being evacuated to Holt, Wiltshire. Upon his return to London he left school at the age of 14 and worked as a messenger before starting a hairdressing apprenticeship.
At the age of 17, although having been too young to serve in the Second World War, he became the youngest member of the 43 Group, a Jewish veterans' underground organisation. It fought against anti-semitism after the war ended by breaking up Fascist meetings in East London. One newspaper refers to him as an "anti-fascist warrior-hairdresser," whose aim was to prevent Sir Oswald Mosley's far-Right movement from spreading "messages of hatred" after the Second World War.
In 1948, at the age of 20, he joined the Haganah (which shortly afterwards became the Israeli Defence Forces) and fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, which began after Israel achieved statehood. During an interview, he describes the year he spent training with the Israelis as "the best year of my life," and recalls how he felt:
When you think of 2,000 years of being put down and suddenly you are a nation rising, it was a wonderful feeling. There were only 600,000 people defending the country against five armies, so everyone had something to do.
Sassoon trained under Raymond Bessone, in his salon in Mayfair. He said, about Bessone, in 2010 that "He really taught me how to cut hair.... I'd never have achieved what I have without him."
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 haircare products and the multinational Procter & Gamble was applying his name to shampoos and conditioners sold worldwide, with a commercial campaign featuring the iconic slogan "If you don't look good, we don't look good." 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.
In 1982, Sassoon started the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, or SICSA, a research centre devoted to the non-political, interdisciplinary gathering of information about antisemitism.
In 2003, Sassoon sued Procter & Gamble in the Federal Court alleging that P&G was destroying his brand by skimping on marketing in favour of the company's other hair product lines, notably Pantene. 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 also had a short-lived TV series called Your New Day with Vidal Sassoon, which aired in the fall of 1980.
Sassoon was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours.
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 to much acclaim and was picked as an Official Selection that year.
Sassoon has twice been a guest on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, on 27 June 1970 and 9 October 2011, when he was also Resident Thinker on the Nowhereisland art project by Alex Hartley.
Sassoon married his first wife, Elaine Wood, in 1956, but the marriage ended in 1958 when she left Sassoon for British water-skiing champion David Nations.
In 1967, Vidal Sassoon married his second wife, actress Beverly Adams. They had four children: two daughters Catya (1968–2002) and Eden (born 1973), and two sons, Elan (born 1970) and David. One daughter, actress Catya Sassoon, died of a drug-induced heart attack aged 33 in 2002. Sassoon and Adams divorced in 1980.
His third wife was Jeanette Hartford-Davis, a dressage champion and former fashion model; they married in 1983 and divorced soon after.
In 1992 he married Rhonda C. Sassoon.
In June 2011 it was reported that Sassoon had been diagnosed with leukaemia two years earlier, and has been receiving treatment in Beverly Hills and London.
Famous clothing designer who was born in the Bronx in 1942. His parents were immigrants from Europe. Klein was always known as the best dressed boy on the block. He began his company in 1968 with $10,000 and the help of his childhood friend, Barry Schwartz. The rest is fashion history.
Karan, born Donna Faske, is a design mogul. She began with Anne Klein and took over as chief designer of that firm with Kleins death in 1974. Ms. Karan is one of many celebrities reported to be studying kabbalah, Jewish mysticism.
Bauer was born and raised in the state of Washington, he was a husband, a father, a businessman, an innovator and a true outdoorsman. Eddie Bauer lived a full life filled with ideas and inventions.
Lauder was a famous cosmetics manufacturer who was born Josephine Esther Mentzer in Queens, NY. Her married name, Lauter, was later changed to Lauder. Named to Time Magazines list of the 100 most influential business people of the century. She built the company from scratch; based on great service, free gifts, and a great sense of the market.
Mizrahi ia an American TV presenter, fashion designer, and was the creative director of Liz Claiborne. He is best known for his eponymous fashion lines. As a child Mizrahi attended a yeshiva.
Cole is a famous shoe designer. Rather than sell from an exhibitor space, he registered the company as a movie production company with NYC officials. He thus got permission to park a forty foot trailer in midtown and sold 40,000 pairs of shoes out of the trailer in a matter of days. Cole has recently been reported to be studying with the orthodox group Aish Ha Torah.
Bakst was born Lev Rosenberg in Russia in 1864. Bakst was his mothers maiden name. He converted to Christianity as a young man, but later returned to Judaism. Bakst was the principal costume designer for Diaghilevs famous Ballet Russes.
Strauss is a German-Jewish founder of the Levi Strauss Company. The company, which began in San Francisco in the 1850s, made clothes gold miners wanted. His sisters descendants, the "Haas" family, still control the company.
Jacobs is an American fashion designer. As one of todays premier clothing designers his line can be found in Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf Goodman. He has been the creative director of the French design house Louis Vuitton since 1997. Jacobs is on Time Magazine's 2010 Time 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Azria is a French fashion designer of Tunisian Jewish descent who founded the contemporary women's clothing brand BCBGMAXAZRIA. Azria is also the designer, chairman and CEO of BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP, a global fashion house that encompasses over 20 brands. He is based in Los Angeles.