Top Stylists and Industry Members Share Vidal Sassoon Memories
Top stylists and industry members share their memories and reflect on the industry legend Vidal Sassoon:
Mark Hayes, Sassoon International Creative Director:
Our industry has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. The world rarely encounters someone who had the profound impact that Vidal has had, and everyone in the industry is indebted to Vidal’s courage and single-minded vision, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. All of us at Sassoon will miss him dearly, and will honour his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much.
Mike Karg, celebrity stylist and founder of KARG:
All my condolences from Zurich Switzerland across the Atlantic.
Every women and man and every hairstylist on this planet has been influenced by Mr. Sassoon on how we ware and how we approach hair. He has given us hairstylists a great foundation. Its our job now to take “his” to the next level..................
I met this man in 1993 at a Rizzoli book store where he was signing his new book “Fifty Years ahead”
What a moment.................
John Kaytaz, Full Time Stylist and founder of JKS International Hair Care Products:
It is a sad day for our profession. Mr. Sassoon is the only one received gracefully the needed respect and prestige to our profession which he earned all the recognition.
Hope there will be more or at least one to replace his place yet I can not count or think for one and that is as sad as Mr. Sassoon's leaving us today.
My condolences to everyone in our industry.
Oribe, Celebrity Stylist and founder of Oribe Hair Care:
I am very sad to hear about the passing of Vidal Sassoon. I did not know him personally, but he has always been a great influence in my work and in the work of all hairdressers. He will always be remembered as a legend and as the greatest hairdresser in the world.
Craig Hansen, American Crew Creative Director:
Vidal was the reason I pursued a career in hairdressing. His drive, passion and vision caught my eye at an early age. He will be missed but his legacy will live on.
David Barron, Owner/Stylist, Barron's London Salon
As a young student in London at the original Vidal Sassoon academy, I had only been around Vidal Sassoon during his discussions about his hair philosophy to the students. He always struck me as a very humble man with a lot of wisdom, and he has had a tremendous impact on my career, to say the least. I had an opportunity to actually meet him personally at a Vidal Sassoon function at the beginning of my career. It was a dressy event, so I wore a suit. When I met Vidal, the first thing he said to me was "I like your whistle and flute." Since we were both from the East End of London, I knew exactly what he meant. ("Whistle and flute" is Cockney slang for suit). We had a good laugh sharing some of the other Cockney expressions we both knew together and bonded over our upbringing in the East End. It was a great moment that I cherish now more than ever.
Suzie Bond, L'OREAL Professionnel Artist and Owner of PERFECT 5th:
I remember just a few years ago I was backstage at a show and bumped into Vidal Sassoon before he was about to take the stage to receive an award. He was extremely gracious, shook my hand, and introduced himself (like I didn't know who HE was)! I was almost speechless, and for anyone who knows me, that doesn't happen often! He apologized for needing to end our conversation so he could take the stage to receive his award. That's the man I will always remember: always putting others first. He will be missed by so many.
Nicholas French, Matrix Artistic Director:
Vidal was a young man when my father had grand salons in London called "French of London." Freddy my father was a ground breaking hairdresser in the early 1950's.
Vidal said of my father Freddy French in his book:
"His work was spectacularly different. He taught many top craftsmen his methods. At last a visionary! He was way ahead of his time. Through him I caught a glimpse of the future" -Vidal Sassoon 2010
Vidal went on to revolutionize hair. As an 18 year old I defected from my father's salon clutching a pile of drawings of hair cuts as I could not cut hair. I went on to work as a Junior Assistant often holding the hair for Vidal as he danced around the hair cutting amazing geometric shapes with his tiny scissors which had never been seen before. It was a unique time that will never be experienced again. His passion, generosity, energy, vision and pure determination has made the world realize that we are not just hairdressers but fine artists. As the great Mary Quant quoted. "He put the top on fashion."
Thank you Vidal for giving me wings to fly.
Brian and Sandra Smith, Matrix Artistic Directors:
Vidal Sassoon –
You were a mindful, humble master & pioneer – you thought, created, and shared what the rest of us could never imagine.
As a great leader and icon, you started a revolution with brilliant ideas and a pair of scissors. Without your contributions, the world of beauty would have been a less interesting and successful place. We will always celebrate your memory, your talent, your message, and the spirit that touched individuals the world over.
Love, respect, & thanks,
Brian & Sandra Smith
Matrix Artistic Directors
Patrick McIvor, Matrix Artistic Director:
Vidal Sassoon changed who we were as hairdressers and made us better. Vidal elevated what we do everyday to an honored profession. He understood that if you listened to your stylist we could make you look good, but it was Vidal who showed us, because he looked so good helping others to look good, so could we as a profession.
Nick Stenson, Matrix Artistic Director:
Vidal Sassoon was the sculptor who changed the way the world forever experienced the art of hair. Like a Michelangelo, he had an innate sense for how hair behaved --- and became the pioneer who understood the beauty of allowing hair itself to dictate movement and style.
Vidal Sassoon's legacy is such a part of our dialogue as hairdressers that it's almost impossible to separate his individual style from the primer of the modern beauty industry.
Vidal took us from the concept of "arranging" or imprisoning hair to the reality that hair lives and moves with us and our lifestyles. His precise geometric cuts gave birth to an architecture of design that became the true cornerstone of contemporary hairstyling.
Matrix Artistic Designer, Robert Santana:
I will forever remember Vidal Sassoon as legendary and iconic. He is an inspiration and mentor for many who knew him. It was his vision and tenacity that revolutionized the beauty industry forever. I thank him for making a mark in our lives.
Chiara Scudieri, ICON:
I remember when I decided to become a hairdresser. Even in the 1980s, there were still only a few truly inspirational figures, people who had changed the idea of hair cut into hair art. Vidal Sassoon was one, a true master. He influenced me; he made me think differently. I believe it helped me become who I am today. I hope today’s stylists and artists can still find inspiration in his work. I hope we all can.
John Paul DeJoria, CEO and Co-Founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems:
Vidal Sassoon was scheduled to have dinner and sit with me at my table with Winn Claybaugh, dean of the Paul Mitchell Schools on Monday night at the Paul Mitchell Schools’ ‘Magic of Memories’ gala fundraiser dinner. Whatever Vidal could do for the professional beauty industry… he did and always showed up. He called three days before the dinner to say he really wanted to be there, but his body was feeling just a little bit too tired and that he would be there in spirit. Vidal Sassoon was the most famous hairstylist in the history of the world. He has left his earthly body and is now joining his top student and infamous hair artist Cyril T. Mitchell, aka Paul Mitchell, styling hair and developing new looks for the heavenly ones. Good hairstylists never die. Vidal Sassoon and Paul Mitchell will always live on… only in a more spiritual kingdom.
Angus Mitchell, Co-Owner of John Paul Mitchell Systems:
Vidal was a lifelong inspiration, mentor and friend. Vidal was not only instrumental in revolutionizing and commercializing hair in the West but he kept hair as an art form intact. I am proud to say that Vidal watched and coached my father and myself master the art of hair with grace, generosity and touch of genius. The world has lost a great man and visionary.
Paul Brown, Founder Paul Brown Hawaii products, Paul Brown Salons:
The industry has lost the founding father of hair fashion as we know it today. For me personally I was inspired by his realistic androgynous designs and philosophy. He made all of us feel proud of who we are and our profession. Several of us broke down today as we shared Vidal's passing with our clients. Aloha Mr. Vidal Sassoon.
Mario McDowell, Belson Products Educator:
I've always admired Vidal Sassoon for his many talents. He went against the grain and built an empire from hair cutting, something no one had really done before he paved the way. His successes made me push myself as a artist, be more creative and think outside the box to find my niche and take it to the next level. His styles are timeless and helped set trends for many decades. His legacy will continue to inspire me and my peers forever.
Doreen Guarneri, Cofounder of American Culture:
"I'm so sad to hear of this tremendous loss. Vidal Sassoon changed the entire industry. He set the bar for sophistication and class in hairdressing and shared with the world that hairdressing is an art form. He did this with unrivaled passion and unconditional dedication to the craft. He will be missed."
Gino Martino, Retrohair Artistic Director:
Vidal Sassoon was a trendsetter that revolutionized women's hair styling forever. "It was all about the cut." He was the most iconic of hairdressers.
Christyn Nawrot for Phyto HairCare:
Our industry lost its most influential and respected modern master... I had the great fortune to take classes with Mr. Vidal Sassoon in the early 80's... I shall never forget the personal attention he showed me and his magnetic energy! Thank you, Vidal, for sharing your genuine passion for the art of hair with the world... I suspect the angels of Heaven are lining up for a make-over..Godspeed.
Jason Yates, VP of Sales & Marketing Farouk Systems:
Early on in my career, I quickly noticed that Vidal Sassoon was the gold standard. I have infinite admiration for him. Vidal transformed hairdressing into the art and craft we know today and encouraged hairdressers to think more like architects, in terms of space. He broke the mold, went against the grain and forever changed the fashion and beauty industry.
Lisa Marie Garcia, VP of Shows & Education Farouk Systems:
I had the chance to meet Vidal Sassoon a few years ago at a benefit. He was the most charming and motivating man, always sharing stories of his professional life. He had a way of making you proud to be a hairdresser. He has inspired several generations of stylists to be the best they can be and always look to art and architecture for inspiration.
John Moroney, VP of Education - Goldwell / KMS:
While everyone remembers the ground-breaking artistry of Vidal Sassoon, what will always be most impressive to me is the culture that he created with his organization. As hairdressers, we've always been relegated to being "second-class" because of our career choice -What Vidal did was create a company and culture where stylists could feel proud to belong and hold their heads high. The Sassoon organization, to this day, has provided thousands of hairdressers with a community to which they can belong and a career path for them to follow.
John C. Simpson, Goldwell Artistic Director:
Vidal Sassoon will always be known for the true creative foundations he gave us! Changing the industry forever with brilliant new shapes and perfectly executed finishing. This gave the hair colorist a completely new mission, to have the perfect placement and discipline of color design that complement the shape. My early years, like so many were in the VS methods. The discipline of my color work, is still based on the true genius of Vidal.”
Philip Pelusi, Founder of Philip Pelusi Salons:
In 1965 Charles of the Ritz had brought Vidal Sassoon to New York. It was his first appearance in the US. I was fortunate to be selected to attend a haircutting class with Vidal Sassoon. It was an intimate class and we got to work with models. It was an exciting experience. I could sense at the time that he was a special person.
When he came to observe my cutting technique he commented that I had a natural feel for hair. Being fresh out of beauty school and with his persona, that became a moment of inspiration that I’ve carried with me throughout my career.
Jim Markham, ColorProof Founder:
Vidal Sassoon was an outstanding, one of a kind individual whose talent goes far beyond hairdressing. Our friendship goes back to 1967 when we were both on stage at a hair show in Texas. Even in those early years, he had a vision to create industry-changing geometric styles created by cutting according to bone structure which, as we all know, has become legendary. Vidal truly changed not only haircutting -but design forever.
Vidal and Ronni were kind enough to invite us to join them in the Queen’s Box at the Royal Albert Hall in London where Vidal was honored at the Alternative Hair Show for his 80th birthday. This was the same week that he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth. Never was an honor more deserving.
Over the years, I became more familiar with Vidal’s philanthropic spirit as we stood side-by-side building homes for Habitat for Humanity. Known as a giver, not a taker, if there was ever an important worthy cause, Vidal was there. He supported Cheryl and I when we were honorees for City of Hope. His kindness, humility and his generosity of spirit were contagious and I feel lucky to have been his friend. He was a true visionary, an inspiration to all and he will be celebrated for many, many years to come. He will be missed by all who knew and loved him. He was a one of a kind treasure.
Philip Wilson, ColorProof International Creative Director:
I met Vidal when I was 17, and had the good fortune to spend the day with him. That one day changed my life. The way he approached hair, cut hair, looked at hair - the face first and the hair as an accessory - was unheard of. He was the ultimate architect of creative hair design. He was able to cut, create and design lines that no one had ever seen before. He was way ahead of his time. I’m gratified to have been there at the beginning before he was famous, and to have stayed close friends with he and his family for over 40 years. I loved him, admired him, respected him and will miss him greatly. But, I rejoice in what he has left the industry and the world. He left a happy smile on our industry that will live with all of us forever.”
Kim Williams, Director of Education Zerran Hair Care:
Vidal Sassoon was a leading force in our industry and a pioneer of his generation and generations to come. He was an inspiration to me by simply demonstrating what a hairstylist can accomplish with imagination, creativity and drive."
Shauky Gulamani, President of FHI Heat:
I am deeply saddened by the passing of Vidal. Words can not even begin to describe the impact he has not only had on my career, but the careers of hairdressers all over the world. His influence on hair has transformed the industry in a way only a true master artist could. He will be missed.
Fernando Salas, creator of White Sands:
I have a great respect for Vidal as a fellow hairdresser and especially as a creator. His passion fueled innovation in a way never done before. Cultural changes come through innovation and that is exactly what he did. He didn't just make trends, he changed culture as we know it. Everyone stopped doing the standard. He even changed my personal way of styling.
Ivan Zoot, Director of Education and Customer Engagement at Andis Company:
Some in our industry have changed a little, Some have changed a lot. Vidal Sassoon changed EVERYTHING
Kim Vo, Celebrity Stylist and Founder of Kim Vo:
I had the pleasure of meeting Vidal during the filming of Shear Genius and instantly connected with the man and the legend. His work stands for it's self but his quiet creative force continues to live within us all.
Omar Lopez, Sultra Beauty:
I am very saddened by the passing of Vidal Sassoon. I can only say what he has left behind is a treasure without measure. I was told once that if you wanted to be a really great hair dresser you wanted to know how to "cut Sassoon", "color Minardi" and "style Parson". His legacy will be infinite and will continue to inspire generations to come - not only as a stylist or hair dresser but as a visionary. Before Sassoon, I could have never dreamed to be in this industry. He truly broke barriers and will continue to revolutionize the hair stylist. He made hairdressers into celebrities instead of the background position we once had as stylists.
Robb Dubré, Artistic and Technical Director, Kenra Professional:
When you consider all of industry leaders who have inspired your professional career as a stylist, there is no denying that one in particular has certainly influenced us all – Vidal Sassoon. I was very fortunate 10 years ago to witness him deliver a keynote speech. His continued passion and dedication to our industry left a lasting impression on me, and his inspiration and legacy will never be forgotten.
Antoinette Beenders, Global Creative Director for Aveda:
I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of the legendary Vidal Sassoon. Vidal was a visionary artist with immense talent that touched so many people's lives. He will forever be celebrated.
Nelson Vercher of Rita Hazan Salon in NYC:
Vidal Sassoon’s passing is such a major loss for me personally. He is the most important hairdresser ever. I was so excited as a young boy working in his Chicago salon learning how to cut hair. And to my surprise, I went out west to work for his San Francisco salon as a stylist. These are just a couple of examples on how this great man changed lives like mine and helped hairdressers feel proud of what they were doing—having real careers. But most of all, Vidal Sassoon was an amazing artist ahead of his time with a true vision of what was to come, and with a total focus on perfection. His legend will live on through my hands and many more. RIP Vidal Sassoon.
Birgitte, Hair and Makeup Artist:
In my opinion, Vidal Sassoon was the first famous hairdresser. His TV commercials were the first to show people the glamour and intrigue of what being a celebrity hairstylist was like. Vidal Sassoon brought the glamour of the beauty and fashion business to the girl next door and his signature haircuts and hair products were aspirational to millions.
Jason Stanton, Editorial Stylist and Educator:
What wonderful human being who gave so much to not only hairstylists but the world. He will be snipping away in heaven, God Bless You Vidal you will be missed.
Louis Angelo, Garren New York Salon:
SASSOON...Upon seeing that name along side a geometric hairstyle ad in the Saks Fifth Avenue salon in Pittsburgh, PA, where I was getting my hair cut (I was 11—it was 1972), I instantly equated his name with modernity and elevated beauty. I rushed home to the local library and found his book along with pictures of his work. I felt that by stumbling upon him I knew the beauty secret of life. Forever Genius.
Frank Barbosa, Celebrity Hairstylist and Co-Owner of Frank Antonio Hair & Makeup, Newport, RI:
My first haircut at the salon today was an homage to Vidal Sassoon. Everything about Sassoon was revolutionary, from the way he brought product to market to his iconic cuts starting with the famous 5-point precision cut. His influence was everywhere—who can forget Mia Farrow’s ultra short cut in “Rosemary’s Baby” or the Dorothy Hamill wedge? The stiff, weekly roller set was over and swinging, wash-and-dry cuts were in. Vidal Sassoon changed the course of hairdressing and the role of the hairstylist. He was the beginning of it all. Now that he’s gone, it feels like the end of an era. But his legacy will continue to inspire hairstylists all over the world.
Creighton Bowman of Exclusive Artists Management:
Vidal Sassoon is truly the father of us all in the hairstyling world. Sassoon elevated our careers to a whole new level, that of artists. Every modern cut we have now came from Sassoon’s revolutionary genius. Before Vidal Sassoon, the high-end hair salon as we know it today did not exist—there were nothing but beauty parlors. Sassoon was a true pioneer, not only with scissors, but with styling, artistry, creativity, bringing glamour and perfection to celebrities—he’s the reason celebrities always look perfect and are such an important influence in driving trends. Everything started with Sassoon—who will forever be an industry legend.
Joshua Ristaino of Exclusive Artists Management:
In the 70's when I was old enough to wash my own hair, my first shampoo bottle was none other than the iconic Vidal Sassoon. The distinctive red bottle and lettering, and unique smell will forever be emblazoned in my mind, and I recognized even early on that it was a special treat to use something my mother did. It is Sassoon’s unique branding that made the most lasting impression in my young memory, which I still carry to this day, and often refer back to when promoting my own career as a celebrity hair stylist.
Alan Benfield Bush, President/CEO, HED Professionals:
Vidal came to visit his academy in San Francisco one day along with the paparazzi. I was teaching so he came in to say hello and decided to observe. Later, in his health and beauty book, he wrote,"Your teaching ability amazes me – and no doubt many others. You have helped to put language to the craft." That was the only inspiration I needed to continue teaching this official language … 'The Method.' I'll never stop!
James Morrison, Creative Director, Morrison Hair:
The last time I heard Vidal speak, it was on the BBC at Christmas and he was discussing his early years growing up in the East End of London after the war, and it struck me how far that boy had traveled to be the man that would make the industry what it is. If it wasn’t for him so many of us wouldn’t be where we are today. When we first met, I was captivated by his mannerisms and the way he used his hands to weave his story — his command of the English language made me hang on every word. I was besotted and it was the beginning of a brief, but meaningful relationship.
We had many things in common: the craft, fashion and soccer. He was an ardent Chelsea fan, while I’m a Glasgow Celtic fan. We ran into him at a Chelsea game on a sunny day and seeing Rachel was without shade he gave her the hat off his head. He was a consummate gentleman. I worked with Vidal on his mission for Habitat for Humanity, had the pleasure of introducing on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in London to receive his Lifetime Achievement Award and walked with him in the French Quarter of New Orleans discussing jazz, art and culture, but all the while pinching myself thinking “I’m walking with Vidal Sassoon!”
Frank Gironda, President, Cosmetologists Chicago:
It is with deep emotion that Cosmetologists Chicago mourns the death of Vidal Sassoon. He always said how much he loved Chicago when he came here for appearances at America’s Beauty Show, including the salon industry premiere of the documentary of his life just last year. Vidal Sassoon enabled salon professionals to achieve their aspirations and dreams by changing the way salons do business. Our entire industry is grateful for his creative leadership.
Rafe Hardy, Artistic Creative Director for Sexy Hair:
My heart is saddened by the loss of a creative, gentle soul. His genius changed the industry and hair art as we know it. Your legacy will live on in each and every stylist, Vidal. May you rest in peace and I thank you for touching my life.
Mia Liguori McHugh, Co-President Creative Scruples, Inc:
Vidal was a visionary, a perfectionist and an inspiration. He will never truly be gone. He lives on in the millions of lives he touched and the beautiful images he created. He will be greatly missed.
Farouk Shami, Founder of Farouk Systems:
Vidal was the greatest hair cut and design innovator in recent history. He was more than just my mentor, he was a great friend. He changed my life as a hair artist as well as the lives and looks of millions of women worldwide. I regret the loss of such an incredible man. For Vidal we pray.
Charlie Price, Scruples International Creative Consultant:
It is impossible to overstate the influence Vidal Sassoon has had on the beauty industry. His magical mix of technical excellence and artistry, his sophistication, his business acumen, the effortless sense of cool and undeniable star power he possessed has defined what we aspire to as hairstylists. Thank you Mr. Sassoon for showing us what is possible.
Bill Kochanski, Woody’s Grooming Brand Manager:
I never had the honor of working directly with Sassoon. But he was the reason I got into the profession. I wanted to learn how to cut hair like him. He totally changed the industry. He created “wash and wear” hair. For the first time hair was cut in a precise manner which allowed it to “fall” into place without manipulation (like rollers or irons).
It was all in the cut. Sassoon took the profession and made all of us professionals. He elevated the industry standards to a level they had never been before. His absolute attention to detail made us all better at our craft. We wouldn’t settle for anything less than perfection.
He will be missed.
Dean Banowetz, InStyle Celebrity Stylist:
We have lost an iconic pioneer to the hair and fashion industry. Through his hard work and expertise, he paved the way for many stylist to be bold and inspired us to take risks.
[Images: Vidal Sassoon courtesy of Vidal Sassoon, Vidal Sasson Signed Book courtesy of Mike Karg, Nicholas French and Vidal Sassoon courtesy of Nicholas French, Jason Yates and Vidal Sassoon courtesy of Jason Yates]