Vidal Sassoon (1928–2012) was an Anglo-American hairstylist, businessman, and philanthropist. The most prominent hairdresser of the 1960s, he transformed women’s cuts in the 1960s with sharp geometric styles that changed the craft of hairstyling forever.
Born in London, Sassoon became a shampoo boy at age 14. At 17, he joined the Jewish ex-servicemen of the 43 Group movement in street battles against Oswald Mosley’s fascists in London. In 1948, he went to Israel, worked on a kibbutz, and joined the army there, fighting in the new nation’s independence war. After the war, Sassoon returned home, and, at age 26, opened his first Bond Street salon, but it was so small that patrons had to sit on the stairs while waiting. “Sassoon’s,” as it was soon identified, flourished and became fashionable, and in 1958, he moved to bigger premises.
Sassoon pioneered the wash-and-wear cuts that earned him many famous clients and admirers—including Mia Farrow, notably for her look in Rosemary’s Baby (1968.) Within five years, Sassoon had established salons in Toronto and in Beverly Hills, and his first hairdressing school, in London. In 1973, he initiated his hair-care products for the trade market and by the mid-1970s had 14 salons and 3 schools in the US, Canada, Britain and Germany.
Sassoon pioneered the open salon layouts and salon venues for men that are today industry standards. He was the first hairstylist to create and produce extensive hair care product lines that are used internationally.