Last Friday, my friend Sarah and I went to see the premier of Vidal Sassoon The Movie at the Tribeca Film Festival. Admittedly, I knew almost nothing about the man, aside from hair product commercials I saw as a kid with his famous slogan, "If you don't look good, we don't look good." I guess my basic logic about getting tickets to the movie was that, if he's big enough to warrant a documentary, there's got to be more to him than shampoo commercials.
Boy, was that an understatement. I learned that not only did Sassoon revolutionize the haircut, he was an incredible example of the "rags to riches" tale. Maybe it was because Sarah and I had seen Coco Avant Chanel together, too, but I couldn't help but think of that movie as I watched the Sassoon documentary. There were so many similarities; a childhood in an orphanage, a new way of looking at the world, and a desire to change the way women saw themselves.
Of course, many people are familiar with the Chanel suit, the iconic bags, and even the woman herself, but what about Sassoon? I have to admit the first thing that came to my mind was the logo on a shampoo bottle. But as the movie progressed, I was surprised by how many of Sassoon's creations were part of my visual memory.
Picture London in the 1960s. What do you see? What are the women wearing? What does their hair look like?
Something like this?
That's fashion designer Mary Quant, who is famous for the miniskirt. Guess who cut her hair?
Or maybe these famous photos come to mind?
It's Grace Coddington back in her modeling days sporting the famous Five Point Cut invented by . . .
hmmm . . . there's that guy again . . .
Or this image that appeared in the October 1963 issue of British Vogue. That's actress Nancy Kwon with a Sassoon bob.
Throughout the Tribeca documentary, icon after icon appeared on the screen. And behind each was Sassoon, cutting away. Remember that pixie cut Mia Farrow has in Rosemary's Baby? Well, she wasn't making it up in the film when she says "I've been to Vidal Sassoon" (her husband's response "You mean you actually paid for it?")
And even beyond famous photographs of models and actresses, an image from my family's photo album— my mother and her sisters with cute bobs smiling into the camera during their cross country trip in the Summer of 1966.
After the movie, in the restroom mirror, I noticed my own haircut, by my fantastic stylist Tom, and I couldn't help but smile.
(If you're in New York, there are two more screenings during Tribeca: Thursday 4/29 at 9pm, and Saturday 5/1 at 3pm. There aren't any more advanced tickets available, but it's definitely worth standing online for rush tickets).
(Vidal Sassoon images from Vidal Sassoon The Movie, IMDB, Style.com, and various internet sources; Campfire photo scanned by my mom; Haircut photos © Littlehouse of Style)