Celebrity Hairstylists

Hairstylists have always held  an intimate and  fabled  position in the  creation and maintenance of female  charm and  beauty. The  role  of the  hairstylist as magic worker, beauty  artist,  and  perhaps even  more  importantly, as confidante, friend, and  advisor,  who constructs the safe haven  in which  women can be transformed into  their  idealized  selves, has  been  mythologized in film,  on  television, and  in magazines and newspapers. By the 1950s  and ’60s, some  male hairdressers were as famous as the icons whose hair they styled. One  known simply as Alexandre de Paris had  clients  including Elizabeth Taylor  and  Sophia Loren. Kenneth Battelle, better  known as Mr. Kenneth, became internationally known for Jackie Kennedy’s bouffant and  made  the  cover  of Glamour magazine, while  West  Coast  playboy Gene  Shacove, who  once  boasted that  hairdressing was a “license  to touch married women,” was the inspiration for the 1975 film Shampoo starring Warren Beatty as the  motorcycle-riding hairdresser who  seduced much of his female  clientele.

Coupled with the continued aggressive  advertising and public   relations  campaigns, many   in  the  beauty   industry, but  perhaps most  prominently the  hairstylist, achieved a celebrated status  that   continues today.

Vidal Sassoon

One  of the  best-known celebrity  hairstylists today  is arguably the  great  Vidal Sassoon, a British  hairdresser who  rose  to fame in the  1960s.  Sassoon, born in 1928  and  as skilled  a business person as he was a hairstylist, rose  to fame when the geometric bob cut he created in 1963 made  him a household name. Sassoon was also known for his wash-and-wear perm,  but  his modernist edge, his ability to create  geometric shapes, to create  lacquer-like shine  with  very few products, and  his precision and  dedication to pushing the  industry forward  set him  apart from his peers. His incredible talent, coupled with his business acumen, changed the  hair  industry forever.  Sassoon was  one  of the  first  to  envision the  beauty and  hair  industry as a multimillion dollar  industry. He  had  a short-lived television  show  called Your New Day with Vidal Sassoon in the  mid  1970s,  and  has also authored several books. Perhaps most  well-known is a line of professional products  he introduced in 1973.In the early 1980s,  Sassoon sold his manufacturing name  to Procter and Gamble, which  sold his products in mainstream markets across  the  United States.  Now,  his salons, schools, and  products may be found globally.

Paul Mitchell

Vidal Sassoon not  only helped to create  the  new  hair  care  industry; he was also mentor and  teacher to many  other stylists  who  would  rise to fame  in his wake. Paul Mitchell, born in Scotland in 1936,  was the son  of a hairstylist mother who entered beauty  school at age 16. After winning numerous competitions, he joined Vidal Sassoon in the 1960s and became one of the most  sought-after and popular hairstylists in London. Gambling on  his fame  and  reputation, Paul  Mitchell left Vidal  Sassoon in 1966  to  open  salons  in the  United States,  where  he  achieved even more  celebrated acclaim. Although he was well respected and  famed  for his styles and  cuts,  Mitchell soon  achieved celebrity  status when,  in 1980,  he joined with business partner John Paul DeJoria to launch a professional hair care system. The  centerpiece of this  system  was a revolutionary new  styling  tool,  a sculpting lotion. The  lotion was soon  joined  by other styling products, shampoos, and conditioners. The  2008  Adam  Sandler film You Don’t Mess with the Zohan played  on Mitchell’s fame  when  aspiring hairstylist Zohan (Sandler)  seeks  to work  for the best, Paul Mitchell. In 1989, Mitchell died of pancreatic cancer.

John Frieda

British  stylist  John  Frieda  also followed  in Sassoon’s footsteps in the  late 1960s. Frieda got his start  at a London salon  owned  by one of Sassoon’s protégés, Leonard Lewis. He quickly became Lewis’s top assistant, which also brought him much attention. While Sassoon certainly had some famous clients that made his famous haircuts even more  popular (Nancy  Kwan, for example,  wore a Vidal Sassoon bob in the  movie,  The Wild Affair, in 1963  and  inspired tens  of thousands of women to seek the  same, sleek angular bob  cut), Frieda  used  the  celebrity  connection to even greater  advantage. Frieda  began  to develop  a celebrity  clientele of his own— including Diana Ross  and  Jacqueline  Kennedy Onassis. Similar  to  Sassoon, he developed a signature haircut that  was featured in the  popular television series, The Avengers. Perhaps Frieda’s  most  famous client  was Lady Diana Spencer, later known as Princess Diana. Frieda  also developed a line of professional products, a risky venture as Sassoon was the only previous example  of this kind  of entrepreneurship. He introduced the Frizz-Ease serum in 1990  in his newly opened New York salon. Because  of a small marketing budget, Frieda did much of the publicity himself,  which  also brought personal attention to the  stylist. Frizz-Ease continues to be one  of his more  popular products along  with the Sheer  Blond  line first introduced in 1998.

Sally Hershberger, Chris  Mcmillan, And Ken Paves

In 1999, John Frieda  opened a salon  with Sally Hershberger, a well-known celebrity hairstylist, most  famous for creating Meg Ryan’s signature shag. Hershberger now  works  independently and  has developed not  only a line of hair care products, but  also  her  own  clothing label.  Many  other celebrity  stylists  developed name  recognition because of a well-loved, and  copiously emulated, hairstyle. For example,  Chris  McMillan was an unknown stylist until  he cut  Jennifer  Aniston’s hair  for the hit show  Friends. The  Rachel  helped McMillan gain a following—not only did women want  Rachel  Green’s  haircut, but  they also now  sought out  the hairstylist himself.  McMillan currently also styles Lindsay  Lohan and Kate Walsh, has  appeared on  the  Oprah Show, and  blogs  on  www.huffingtonpost.com. Ken Paves—whose clients  include Jessica Simpson and  Eva Longoria—is not  only an in-demand stylist,  but  also  has  his  own  products—including hair  extensions— which  his celebrity  clients  help  to sell. He has also been  a fixture  in the  tabloids, often  pictured with his clients  at his salon  or out  on the town.

Television Personalities

Some  stylists, like Jose Eber,  Kim Vo, and  Jonathan Antin, are as known for their personalities as they are for their  hair. All three  have appeared on television shows dedicated to  the  art,  and  business, of hairstyling. Eber,  long  time  stylist  to  Jaclyn  Smith, has  appeared on  a hairstylist Bravo TV  contestant/reality show  she hosts, Shear Genius. Vo is co-host with  Smith and  has  also  appeared on  various entertainment and  style shows, offering  tips, opinions, and  makeovers. Shear Genius follows  14 hairstylists vying for a cash  prize  and  name  recognition. Indeed, Bravo TV’s Tabatha’s Salon Takeover features Tabatha Coffey, a former contestant on Shear Genius, who gives floundering hair salons  a makeover. Bravo TV, capitalizing  on  America’s  fascination with  celebrity  hairstylists, has  been  aggressive  at the forefront of beauty  television. Its show, Blow Out, followed  hairstylist Jonathan Antin  as he struggled to start  his own high-end salon. The  Style Network, an entire network devoted only to style and  beauty, has also been  concentrating much of its programming on hairstylists. Peter Ishkhans, a celebrity stylist whose cuts are “mindful of balance and form,” hosted a popular show titled Peter Perfect, in which he  would  give failing  businesses, and  their  staff, makeovers. Oprah Winfrey  has dedicated entire  episodes to celebrity  hairstylists. Although many  of these  stylists gained  fame  because of their  celebrity  clients,  many  have  become celebrities in their  own right  and  their  status as pop  icons  is evidenced in their  appearances in tabloid magazines and in popular curiosity about their  lives outside of the salons.

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