Celebrity hair stylist Vidal Sassoon dead at 84

Wed May 9, 2012 6:34pm EDT
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Vidal Sassoon, hair stylist and fashion world icon who created a natural look in the 1960s and built a multi-million dollar business on his name, has died of apparent natural causes at his home in Los Angeles. He was 84.

The British stylist's scissors spelled the end of the 1950s-era beehive and the bouffant - untouchable hairstyles that owed their existence to lacquer and hair pins - and brought him international fame and fortune.

Sassoon was dubbed a pioneer by many for coming up with so-called wash and wear looks - liberating many women from weekly salon trips to have their hair done.

But as much as he was a genius in the salon, Sassoon was a whiz in business. He began marketing his name, styles and cutting techniques in a worldwide line of beauty salons, hair-cutting schools and later, related lines of hair products.

Still, Sassoon never felt the profession that he put at the forefront of modern fashion received the respect it was owed.

"Hairdressing in general hasn't been given the kudos it deserves," Sassoon told Reuters in 2010. "It's not recognized by enough people as a worthy craft."

"If you get hold of a head of hair on somebody you've never seen before, cut beautiful shapes, cut beautiful architectural angles and she walks out looking so different - I think that's masterful," he said.

Born in London on January 17, 1928, the son of a poor Turkish-Jewish carpet salesman, Sassoon spent eight of his early years in an orphanage after his father abandoned his family. He quit school at 14, and his stepfather agreed to finance his apprenticeship as a hairdresser.   Continued...

Famed hairdresser Vidal Sassoon helps style the hair of a model in Shanghai in this September 9, 1997 file photo. Sassoon, a celebrity hair stylist who parlayed his success in the salon into a huge business putting his name on numerous hair design products, has died at his home in Los Angeles at age 84, according to Los Angeles police. REUTERS/Files