On this day in history : 17th January 1928 – The birth of British hairstylist and entrepreneur Vidal Sassoon, who revolutionised women’s hairdressing in the 1950s/60s….

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Vidal Sassoon in 2006 – en.User:DierkA / de.Benutzer : The weaver

Vidal was born in Hammersmith, West London to Jewish parents and the family lived in Shepherd’s Bush…. His mother, born in the East End, came from a Ukrainian family who had emigrated to England during the 1880s…. His father was born in Thessaloniki, now part of northern Greece…. When Vidal was 3-years-old his father left for another woman…. Falling into poverty Vidal’s mother was unable to keep up the rent payments on their home and so the family were evicted…. She took Vidal and his younger brother to her sister’s flat – seven of them squeezed into the tiny space with no bathroom or inside toilet….

Vidal’s mother had no choice but to place her boys in the care of a Jewish orphanage….and here they stayed for seven years…. Their mother was only permitted to visit them once a month – and it wasn’t until Vidal was 11 and his mother had remarried that the family were to be reunited…. But even this was short-lived, as both Vidal and his brother were evacuated to Wiltshire at the beginning of World War 2….

Vidal returned to London and left school at the age of 14…. He was good at football and dreamed of being a professional player – but his mother had other ideas…. She had always wanted him to become a hairdresser and so she took him to the school of well-known stylist Adolph Cohen…. However, it was obvious there was no way the family could afford the cost of the expensive two-year course – but luck was on their side – Cohen, taking a shine to Vidal, waived the fees….

Vidal went on to train under Raymond Bessone in his Mayfair salon – and then in 1954 opened his own…. His interest in architecture gave him the inspiration to create the precisely angled geometric scissor cut and bob cut hairstyles which were to become his trademark…. Short, simple to maintain cuts that a woman could style herself at home….

It was not long before Vidal’s trendy Bond Street salon had celebrity clients, such as fashion designer Mary Quant and actress Nancy Kwan….

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Mary having her cut by Vidal, 1964 – Kristine via Flickr

Vidal expanded his business to the States…. He famously created the ultra-short pixie cut of Mia Farrow for the film Rosemary’s Baby….

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Mia Farrow’s Pixie hair cut – Fair use

His business grew and grew, he established salons and hairdressing schools across Europe and North America…. A range of beauty and haircare products was launched – Vidal would appear in the TV commercials in person…. His catchphrase – “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good”….

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In Memoriam Day via Flickr

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