Vidal Sassoon

As a hairdresser, Vidal Sassoon promoted a belief that the structure of the cut should provide the style; this led to the development of his signature wash-and-go geometric cuts of the 1960s. Though all his cuts are visually distinct, he is most  often associated with the 5-point cut, a short geometric cut with one point over each ear and three  visible points at the nape of the neck. A crucial  player in the vibrant Swinging London scene  of the  1960s,  Sassoon promoted simplicity  of line that  was visually analogous to the  minimalist, geometric lines of mid ’60s fashions. Sassoon’s most famous cut is that  worn  by Mia Farrow  in the 1967 film Rosemary’s Baby.

Sassoon was born in the  East End  of London on January  17, 1928  to parents of Sephardic Jewish ancestry. His father  abandoned the family when  Sassoon was very young, and  his  mother placed  Sassoon and  his  brother in  an  orphanage until  1939,  when  the  family was reunited. At age 14, Sassoon was apprenticed to a hairdresser named Professor  Cohen. He  spent  the  next several  years  honing his  skills at  a  series  of  gradually more prestigious London salons. During the  same  period, Sassoon   was  also  involved   with the 43 Group, an antifascist Jewish group in London. In April 1948, Sassoon joined  the Israeli Army  and  spent  several months fighting  in  the  Arab-Israeli  War  before  returning to  London. Upon his  return to  London, Sassoon returned to work  as a hairdresser, eventually opening his own  London salon  in 1954.

Though Sassoon quickly  built  a name  for himself,  it was not  until  1963  that he experienced the creative breakthrough that led to his signature geometric cuts. Asked  by London fashion designer Mary  Quant to develop  a new  look  for her models in an upcoming fashion show, Sassoon gave all the models haircuts reminiscent of the  bob  of the  1920s.  Quant also  volunteered her  own  hair  and  the Sassoon cut was born.

Like an artist,  Sassoon named his creations, giving them  names such  as EyeEye, a cut  that  covered  one  eye, or the  Curly  Geometric, a permed version  of his geometric cut.  Fashion-forward women such  as  model  Peggy  Moffit,  designer Emmanuelle Khanh, and  actor  Nancy Kwan  quickly  adopted the  avant-garde Sassoon look. As his reputation spread, Sassoon began collaborating with fashion designers such  as  Rudi  Gernreich, Mila  Schon, Paco  Rabanne, and  Emanuel Ungaro to create  hairstyles to complement their  designs.

Sassoon eventually opened salons  and  hair  academies in New  York  and  London, while also developing a line of hair care products. In 1982, Sassoon founded the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the  Study  of Anti-Semitism at Hebrew University in Israel, an organization dedicated to studying and  documenting antiSemitism throughout the  world.  By 2004,  Sassoon was no longer  associated with any of the  salons, hair  academies, or products that  bear  his name. He lives in Los Angeles  and  devotes   his  time  and  financial   resources to  various   philanthropic efforts.

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