'Chanel of Hair' Vidal Sassoon Dies Aged 84: We Remember His Greatest Cuts

10 May 2012 by

Grazia Daily is sad to report that Vidal Sassoon has died at the age of 84. The legendary hair dresser was with his family at home in Los Angeles when he passed away on Wednesday. Fashion designer Mary Quant has described him as the 'Chanel of hair', while British celebrity hairdresser Nicky Clarke called him 'the most iconic hairdresser'. Let's remember his finest cuts with our tributary gallery above.

Four Versions of Vidal's famous crop hairstyle

Sassoon’s life was undeniably a tale of rags to riches. Before achieving international success and fame, he spent his childhood in a London orphanage. His first break arrived at the age of 14 when he worked in a salon by day and spent his evenings fighting fascists in East London after the Second World War, before signing up to fight in the Arab-Israeli war in 1948.

After returning to London, Sassoon underwent three years of speech therapy in order to get a job in a Mayfair salon and train under Raymond Bessone. But the major breakthrough arrived in 1963 when he cut film star Nancy Kwan's hair into a geometric bob. Kwan refused to look in the mirror as he worked his magic, instead playing chess with her manager, but as Sassoon completed the new 'do, she was dispatched in a taxi to photographer Terrence Donovan’s studio where they captured an iconic portrait which later featured in Vogue (see the iconic shot in the gallery above).

Vidal Sassoon: The Movie

From that moment onwards the style was emulated the world over by women relieved to finally be free of hairspray and curlers. Women flocked in their hundreds to his Bond Street salon where they could get whatever hairstyle Sassoon saw fit. The hairdresser also conjured up the revolutionary 'Five-Point Cut' debuted by model (and now US Vogue fashion director) Grace Coddington and who could forget when he cut Mia Farrow's hair in a boxing ring for a publicity stunt orchestrated by director Roman Polanski for film 'Rosemary's Baby'?

While achieving star status both in the UK and over in the US, where he later relocated his London team, Sassoon was also a committed family man - he was the father to four children with his second wife Beverly Adams. Two more marriages followed, the most enduring with his beloved Ronnie with whom he spent his last two decades.

In 2009, he was awarded a CBE  for his extraordinary lifelong dedication to his art and you'll remember the hysteria 'Vidal Sassoon: The Movie' caused at Grazia HQ when the film was released last year. It offered an enticing snapshot of fashion in the swinging sixties, not to mention a fascinating portrait of an intriguing figure who ‘changed the world with a pair of scissors’.


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