In Memoriam: Vidal Sassoon

If style is the process of liberating women from the constraints of codes—dress, beauty, and otherwise—then Vidal Sassoon is the Marianne of hair, his scissors the guillotine. Today, the English-born hairstylist, perhaps the greatest who ever lived, died from leukemia in his Los Angeles home. He was 84.


Sassoon’s unorthodox ideas freed women from their stiff helmets of lacquered hair and mountains of rollers. With his geometric Bob, among hundreds of innovative cuts, he transformed hairdressing into an art. His cutting-edge vision accompanied Mary Quant’s mini-skirts, Rudi Gernreich’s topless swimsuits, and many other icons of contemporary fashion. His wash-and-wear hairstyles paralleled the rise of ready-to-wear, releasing women from piled-high bouffants and weekly salon appointments, while the short boy-cut he gave Mia Farrow in 1967—an instant hit when she wore onscreen in Rosemary’s Baby—caused an outright scandal.

Sassoon was scheduled to attend the Met Gala earlier this week, but canceled due to fatigue. He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Ronnie, and his children from previous marriages.

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