Vidal Sassoon died last week. He was a hairdresser, in the same way that Mary Quant was a dressmaker or The Avengers was just another TV series. He introduced short, sleek, edgy hairstyles to the celebrities of the Swinging Sixties – and my brush with his hairbrush is about as close as I ever got to Carnaby Street fashion.
According to his obituaries, Sassoon made most of his money from selling hair care products and by teaching his hair-cutting skills. When I spent 6 months in London in the late 1970s, you could get a haircut at the Vidal Sassoon School of Hairdressing for £2 as a ‘model’ – on condition that you let the student do whatever s/he wanted. A friend of mine ended up with purple hair. I was luckier, a silent spectator as tutor and student riffled through my hair, drew a map of my scalp showing crown and parting, and then layer cut it to a point, so that it sat neatly or swung obediently. They were the best haircuts I’ve ever had. Continue reading