Vidal Sassoon (Interview)by Hair's How Magazine
How did you start?
Vidal: In the 1950's you had to pay to be an apprentice. I wanted to be a footballer, but my mother said that she had had a premonition that she was to take me to visit a hairdresser by the name of Adolf Cohen at
How did you perfect your hairdressing skills?
Vidal: I went on to work for Raymond. He was an amazing hairdresser and he was also the most charismatic
individual I'd ever worked with. I had enormous respect for him. He used small scissors for everything: pruning the hair, thinning, and shaping. I watched and learned. I had always loved geometry and I began to develop a plan to cut hair geometrically.
How did Vidal Sassoon the salon come about?
Vidal: In 1954 I opened my first salon. A client and terrific lady, Lyla Burkman, said she could see the possibilities and had her husband put up the money. It was on the 3rd floor of
nine years of working late, often until 1:00 AM. I practiced on models, worked continually, sometimes alone and sometimes with my team. We focused on our skills and tried to achieve something no one else had done.
When did your «revolution» begin?
Vidal: Well, you know the 60's actually began for me in 1954 when I opened my salon. So there was an evolution before the revolution! It took me a long time to get to the 5 point cut! Hairdressing wasn't a job, it was a lifestyle. I would be invited to a party and at I'd get up to go home. People would say,
Where are you going? It's just starting! I'd say, No, for me it starts at tomorrow.
You were the first hairdresser to build a team. How did you develop this ethos?
Vidal: I had a huge respect for Raymond, but one thing happened while I worked for him. He offered me the position of junior partner in his Cardiff Salon. I, in turn, asked if I could have my name on any work I did for him. He said this wasn't his policy and I decided that my policy would be to give my team recognition as individuals. When I opened Vidal Sassoon in the Grosvenor House the name over the salon was Roger at Vidal Sassoon because I respected the brilliant artist and director, Roger Thompson.
So many now famous hairdressers have worked for you or have gone through your school, haven't they?
Vidal: Oh, yes and there are so many wonderful, talented people that I couldn't pick out names, although perhaps I'll mention just three beginning with Paul Mitchell. I took him to
the first celebrity hairdressers to have an extraordinary house in
Annie Humphreys joined me. They made a team that was so talented it would be hard to emulate.
What advice would you give to a young hairdresser?
Vidal: It's never going to be easy. Failure creates success. If you're not excited about your work, then do something else. You need passion, dedication, patience and discipline. Discipline is a necessary inconvenience! You also need energy. When I started, I used to work 14 hours! But, it's hard to give advice to 1000 hairdressers because everyone is different. You need to talk to people about their own vision and illustrate to them open up your vision then you'll see where to go. You need someone to get that out for you.
I was fortunate — Raymond did that for me.
Hairdressing was recently voted the most satisfying job, followed by nursing. Why do you think that is?
Vidal: On an average day you perhaps do ten clients and try to develop with them a sense of themselves. You look into their eyes, study their bone structure, and if you get it right that perception they have themselves can be altered. It's great! That happens for 9 out of 10 clients. But, I'll tell you what; perhaps that 10th one needs to be sent to a nurse! Hairdressing isn't work — it's a hobby. The aim is to excite, to create an atmosphere and a team spirit amongst your hairdressers.