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Hairstyling pioneer Vidal Sassoon dies at 84 in LA
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Vidal Sassoon used his hairstyling shears to free women from beehives and hot rollers and give them wash-and-wear cuts that made him an international name in hair care.
When he came on the scene in the 1950s, hair was high and heavy _ typically curled, teased, piled and shellacked into place. Then came the 1960s, and Sassoon’s creative cuts, which required little styling and fell into place perfectly every time, fit right in with the fledgling women’s liberation movement.
Sassoon died Wednesday at age 84 at his home on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles, police spokesman Kevin Maiberger said.
Officers were summoned to the home at about 10:30 a.m. and found Sassoon dead, Maiberger said. His family was with him. Officers determined Sassoon died of natural causes, and there will be no further police investigation.
“My idea was to cut shape into the hair, to use it like fabric and take away everything that was superfluous,” Sassoon said in 1993 in the Los Angeles Times, which first reported his death. “Women were going back to work, they were assuming their own power. They didn’t have time to sit under the dryer anymore.”
His wash-and-wear styles included the bob, the Five-Point cut and the “Greek Goddess,” a short, tousled perm _ inspired by the “Afro-marvelous-looking women” he said he saw in New York’s Harlem.
Paul Mitchell’s son Angus Mitchell, who co-owns the hair-care product business his father founded and is a prominent hairstylist in his own right, said Sassoon’s simple-but-dynamic system forever changed the business because it could be replicated anywhere.
“Vidal was like Christopher Columbus,” Angus Mitchell, who studied under Sassoon, told The Associated Press Wednesday. “He discovered that the world was round with his cutting system. It was the first language that people could follow.”
Celebrity stylist and Madison Avenue salon owner Oscar Blandi said Sassoon made him fall in love with the hair business and showed him the “true art of styling.”
“He truly changed the world of hair and beauty,” Blandi said in an email to The AP. “He was definitely the most innovative person ever to enter the industry. He led the way for the celebrity stylists of today.”
Many of those celebrity stylists were tweeting tributes as word spread.
“My great day turned into a devastating day,” Tabatha Coffey of the Bravo reality TV series “Tabatha Takes Over” said on her Twitter account. “RIP Vidal Sassoon thank you for all you have done for our industry and for me.”
Sassoon opened his first salon in his native London in 1954 but said he didn’t perfect his cut-is-everything approach until the mid-‘60s. Once the wash-and-wear concept hit, though, it hit big and many women retired their curlers for good.
His shaped cuts were an integral part of the “look” of Mary Quant, the superstar British fashion designer who popularized the miniskirt.
He also often worked in the 1960s with American designer Rudi Gernreich, who became a household name in 1964 with his much-publicized (but seldom-worn) topless bathing suit.
By Donald Lambro
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