Vidal Sassoon Dies at 84, Fashion And Beauty World Mourns Death of The ‘Founder of Hairdressing’
By IBTimes Staff Reporter | May 10, 2012 6:34 AM EST
Legendary hairstylist responsible for pioneering the bob haircut, Vidal Sassoon, died in his home Wednesday at age 84, prompting the fashion and beauty world to mourn the death of the man known as the "Founder of Hairdressing."
According to The Los Angeles Times, Sassoon was found dead by authorities in his Mulholland Drive home in Los Angeles from natural causes. The cause of death was an unspecified illness, according to his family, who were by his side at his death. He was diagnosed in 2009 with leukemia and didn't announce his illness until 2011.
Sassoon was born in London and grew up in a Jewish orphanage with his brother when his single mother couldn't provide for them, according to an interview with The Telegraph in 2011.
"I was born in 1928 and by 1931 the Depression was beginning to mount. My father had left us, my brother, and myself. We were in Shepherd's Bush, but we were being evicted, we had nowhere to go," Sassoon told The Telegraph.
After fighting in the Israeli army, Sassoon worked as a "shampoo boy" at 14-years-old washing hair and mixing hair dye, according to the LA Times.
"The ammonia jar was kept locked up because if you spilled it, it would clean out the sinuses of the block, not just the salon," Sassoon told the New York Times in 1999.
His mother eventually coaxed him into working in hair for his career.
"I thought I'd be a soccer player but my mother said I should be a hairdresser, and, as often happens, the mother got her way," Sassoon told the AP in 2007.
"When I first came into hair, women were coming in and you'd place a hat on their hair and you'd dress their hair around it," Sassoon said. "We learned to put discipline in the haircuts by using actual geometry, actual architectural shapes and bone structure. The cut had to be perfect and layered beautifully, so that when a woman shook it, it just fell back in."
This technique he described is exactly what he accomplished on Mia Farrow, when he chopped off her long hair for a shot bob cut for "Rosemary's Baby" in 1968. According to Marie Claire, thousands of women flocked to their hairdressers for a similar cut as Farrow's pixie crop.
"Her bone structure was beautiful. I told her that we had to go very short," he told The Telegraph.
In 1973, Sassoon struck a deal with Procter & Gamble to manufacture a line of eponymous hair products, which is now worth around $150 million dollars. His slogan? "If you don't look good, we don't look good." His empire eventually expanded to hair salons nationwide in addition to Vidal Sassoon Academies in England, United States and Canada and three books: "Sorry I Kept Your Waiting, Madam," "A Year of Beauty and Health" and "Cutting Hair the Vidal Sassoon Way."
In 2004, Sassoon reflected on his life working as a hairdresser, a profession which he calls "a wonderful breed."
"You work one-on-one with another human being and the object is to make them feel so much better and to look at themselves with a twinkle in their eye," he told the Chicago Tribune in 2004. "Work on their bone structure, the color, the cut, whatever, but when you've finished, you have an enormous sense of satisfaction."
Sassoon was the subject of a documentary in 2010, "Vidal Sassoon: The Movie," which chronicled his life and career from shampoo boy to hair empire.
Vidal Sassoon is survived by his fourth wife Ronnie and three of four - Catya died in 2002 of a heart attack - children.
Since word of his death began to spread, the fashion, hair and beauty community, along with countless other men and women who swear by the hair innovator, mourned the loss of the "Founder of Hairdressing."
"RIP Vidal Sasoon [sic]. We have lost another genius. You need to watch this documentary to understand his importance," Nina Garcia tweeted.
W Magazine tweeted a quote by the legendary Sassoon, "Longevity is a fleeting moment that lasts forever."
"The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. --RIP #vidal Sassoon," Ashley Jones tweeted.
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