Yesterday, I found out that Vidal Sassoon died. He was one of my heroes, in a big way. He had a profound influence on my own career, and on my entire industry. I had always hoped to meet him one day. It saddens me to know that now that that will never happen, but he certainly lived a full life.
The following is something that I wrote for my writing class earlier this winter/spring, the assignment was to write 500 words about someone who inspired me. I thought now would be a good time to share it.
Vidal Sassoon: My Inspiration
I wanted to be a hairstylist my whole life. I remember watching the commercials for Vidal Sassoon hairspray when I was little, with the perfect bob that swung from side to side, and thinking, “I’m gonna do that.” I didn’t want to be the girl (although I wanted that hair); I wanted to be the stylist.
When I began my career, I had a pretty clear image of what I wanted to do. I wanted it to be glamorous.
I got one of the most sought after jobs of my classmates, working for Heinz Schaeffer, the European uber stylist.
A week before I was to start, I took a vacation to LA, and my goals solidified. What I really wanted to do was hair for the movies. I could have my name in the credits. I could be a member of the Academy.
I began doing the things that I felt would prepare me. I excelled at styling, I could blow dry the curl out of anyone’s hair. I built a portfolio of editorial work. I was published in Passion Magazine (the industry’s most prestigious publication) at 22.
Then, three and a half years into my career, my boss thought I should get a little bit of “ongoing education” at the Vidal Sassoon Academy in Santa Monica. It sounded fun, and I loved LA. He didn’t have to twist my arm. I thought this would be a great way to “network” anyway, to maybe get some connections for going out there to work at my dream.
But, after a week at the academy, everything had changed for me. Vidal Sassoon had changed my life. I was fascinated with his story, and it changed the way I did hair forever.
Vidal Sassoon first started changing the world in the sixties. It was the age of roller-sets, Beehives and Bouffants. He looked at the women in salons and realized that the only people with good hair were the ones who could afford to go to the salon and have their hair done once a week. This didn’t seem right to him. He began to ask questions. “What if we taught women how to do their own hair?” “What if we cut hair to work with the natural texture, rather than fighting against it?” They say that he started a revolution.
Because the industry is so different now, it’s hard to fathom what a difference he made. But let me put it to you this way: Without his ideas, we wouldn’t have the hand-held blow dryer. We would all still be the women in beauty shops, getting our hair set once a week under the hood dryers, sipping pink lemonade. He changed an entire culture.
And I no longer want to be a hair stylist to the stars. I want to make real people beautiful, and teach them to love the hair that they have.