Legendary hair stylist Vidal Sassoon dies aged 84

Swinging: Vidal Sassoon in action, creating the iconic bob cut for designer Mary Quaint
Vidal Sassoon in action, creating the iconic bob cut for designer Mary Quaint

Legendary hair stylist Vidal Sassoon has died at the age of 84 after a long battle with leukaemia.

The celebrity hairstylist, who was credited with creating the ‘Bauhaus-inspired’ hair style – also called the bob – passed away at his Los Angeles home yesterday (May 9).

Police were called to the property at 4.30am GMT when they discovered the fashion pioneer dead, Los Angeles police confirmed.

“It was of apparent natural causes and there is no crime scene,” Los Angeles police spokesman Kevin Maiberger said in a statement. “When the officers arrived there were family members at the residence.”

The British-born hairdresser’s name has been among the most recognised in the fashion world for the past 50 years.

His clients included Hollywood stars such as Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth and Elizabeth Taylor as well as the model Jean Shrimpton and fashion designer Mary Quant who called him the ‘Chanel of hair’.

Sassoon was known for almost single-handedly ending the 1950s bouffant hairstyles thanks to his revolutionary sharp techniques.

His work included the geometric perm and the low-maintenance “Nancy Kwan” hairstyles, and his innovative cuts were wanted by many celebrities and ‘it’ stars during the 1960s.

He was responsible for Mia Farrow’s haircut in 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby, which included her line: “It’s a Vidal Sassoon, it’s terribly in.”

Sassoon later built up an empire of salons and hair and skin products, which used the tagline: “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.”

British: Sassoon stayed true to his roots and was in awe of the Queen when he was made a CBE in 2009Born in Hammersmith in 1928, he was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours.

Sassoon was diagnosed with leukemia in 2009 but chose to keep the news private. He only revealed last year that he had the illness and while being treated in Beverly Hills and at the Cromwell Hospital in London. His fourth wife Ronnie was said to have been a ‘tower of strength’ during his illness.

When Sassoon picked up his scissors in the 1950s, styled hair was typically curled, teased, piled high and shellacked into place.

Then came the 1960s, and Sassoon’s creative cuts, which required little styling, fell into place perfectly with the women’s liberation movement.

‘My idea was to cut shape into the hair, to use it like fabric and take away everything that was superfluous,’ Sassoon said.

‘Women were going back to work, they were assuming their own power. They didn’t have time to sit under the dryer anymore.’

His wash-and-wear styles included the bob, the Five-Point cut and the ‘Greek Goddess,’ a short, tousled perm – inspired by the ‘Afro-marvelous-looking women’ he saw in New York’s Harlem.

A documentary about his life and works, Vidal Sassoon: The Movie, was released in 2010. It used the tagline: “[He was] a rock star, an artist, [and] a craftsman who changed the world with a pair of scissors.”

In a statement his family said ‘he sadly lost his battle with leukaemia today’.

The statement went on: ‘He became the most celebrated hairdresser in the world having begun his career as an apprentice during the Second World War, going on to revolutionise an industry through his iconic haircuts, salons, schools and product lines.

‘He will be greatly missed by his wife of 20 years Ronnie, his children, grandchildren, family and friends.’

Passing: Vidal Sassoon has died at his Los Angeles home aged 84
Vidal Sassoon has died at his Los Angeles home aged 84