LOS ANGELES (AFP/EJP)---Legendary British hairdresser Vidal Sassoon has died, aged 84, following a long battle with Leukaemia. Sassoon, who is widely credited with revolutionising modern hairdressing, passed away on Wednesday in his hometown of three decades, Los Angeles.
Tributes to him have been paid by friends and contemporaries, including fellow celebrity stylist Nicky Clarke, who described him as ‘truly one of the greatest icons of hairdressing’.
Born to Jewish parents in London, Sassoon spent seven of his formative years in a Jewish orphanage, after his father abandoned the family. He later went on to fight for Israel in the Arab-Israeli war of 1948.
Vidal Sassoon opened his first salon in London in 1954, on his return from Israel, and soon became synonymous with the Cool Britannia movement of the 1960s, with a clientele including Hollywood stars Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth and Elizabeth Taylor, as well as fashion designer Mary Quant, who declared him the ‘Chanel of hair’.
It was during this period that he developed the geometric and architectural-inspired haircuts for which he became known. The first hairdresser to lend his name to a range of at-home hair products and multiple salons both in the UK and the US, Sassoon caught the zeitgeist with an advertising slogan that claimed ‘if you don’t look good, we don’t look good’.
In addition to his many career achievements, Sassoon became renowned for his philanthropic work, in particular working with Jewish-interest charities, which he further developed with the creation of The Vidal Sassoon International Study for Anti-Semitism. He was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in2009 for services British hairdressing and charity and is survived by his wife of 20 years and three children from a previous marriage. His family have requested donations be made in his memory to his charitable foundation.