In 1954, mid-century London was primed for a cultural revolution, one that Sassoon would help lead.
Inspired by the modernist movement and particularly the Bauhaus, Sassoon’s tastes favored the strong, clean lines and shapes of the new world he witnessed being built around him.
“When I looked at the architecture, the structure of buildings that were going up worldwide, you saw a whole different look, in shape,” he said in the 2010 documentary Vidal Sassoon: The Movie. “For me, hair meant geometry, angles, bone structure, uneven shapes – as long as it suited that face and that bone structure.”
The belief that shape should be the ultimate influence on hairstyle challenged Sassoon’s clientele.
“Back in those early days, women would bring in photographs of the latest movie star – often someone they bore no likeness to at all – whose hairstyle they wanted to imitate,” he said. “I’d say, ‘You look nothing like her.’ Then I’d explain how the hair must suit the bone structure and also the client’s figure. I’d make them stand up, look in the mirror, and I’d explain what I was going to do. The photograph went into the rubbish bin.”
Beyond just shape and style, Sassoon designed his looks to be practical. He originated the “wash-and-wear” philosophy. A Sassoon cut liberated women from the burden of weekly salon visits and empowered her to self-style her hair with ease at home.
Today, Sassoon’s hairstyles are synonymous with the 60’s, and though he created and refined countless looks over his lifetime there are three that together transformed him into an icon: the Five-Point cut, the Geometric Bob and the Pixie.
The Five-Point Cut
The Five-Point cut, Sassoon’s geometric design in its purest and most classical form, took nine years to develop. Self-regarded as the finest cut he ever created, the Five-Point cut, and the woman who wore it, became a walking billboard for Sassoon and his salon.
The Geometric Bob
Sassoon knew he was onto something as soon as the famous actress with hair down her back sat down in his chair. Midway through the cut, he arranged for a photographer to capture his newest look: The Geometric Bob. The resulting photo of her in profile, her hair equal parts round and angular, was quickly picked up by a UK fashion magazine. After that, the cut, the image and the Sassoon name spread around the globe as the photo was featured on magazine covers from Asia to North America.
In 1967, a film director invited Sassoon to cut his lead actress’ hair on the set of his latest picture. In front of an audience of reporters atop a boxing ring, Sassoon shaped the actress’s hair into the iconic and controversial Pixie cut.
Today, the cropped and feminine Pixie remains a fashion favorite of actresses and everyday women around the world.