New movie shapes life of hairdresser Vidal Sassoon

Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:39pm EDT
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hairdressing pioneer Vidal Sassoon rose to fame nearly 50 years ago with his geometric cuts and business savvy that created a global brand, but he says hairdressers still don't get the respect they deserve.

Sassoon is dubbed a pioneer by many for not only coming up with so-called wash and wear looks -- liberating many women from weekly salon trips to have their hair done -- but also creating a multimillion dollar line of hair care products.

The 82-year-old's life and career are depicted in "Vidal Sassoon The Movie," produced by Michael Gordon, founder of the Bumble and Bumble hair salons, which had its world premiere and is showing at this week's Tribeca Film Festival.

But while the U.S. hair care market is worth more than $8 billion and the country's 80,000 salons generate $16 billion annually, according to industry data, Sassoon said some people still viewed hairdressing as "a craft for creeps and freaks."

"Hairdressing in general hasn't been given the kudos it deserves," Sassoon, who was unable to appear at the festival after spending several weeks in hospital with pneumonia, told Reuters in a phone interview. "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.

The film tells of Sassoon's rise from an impoverished childhood as a Jewish boy in London, to fighting for Israel against the Arabs, to forging his career as a hairdresser, building his company and becoming a television star.

He was born in Britain and spent several years in an orphanage as a young boy after his father left his family. He left school at age 14 and began to train as a hairdresser after his mother "had a vision" that her son should be cutting hair.   Continued...

<p>Vidal Sassoon (R) poses with his wife Ronnie as they arrive the opening of the first Stella McCartney boutique in Los Angeles September 28, 2003. REUTERS/Jim Ruymen</p>