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An astute businessman, schooled by a tough East End background, he made an £80 million fortune from the sale of his own products around the globe, while his talent spawned a host of lesser celebrity crimpers.

It was quite an achievement for a boy raised in an orphanage, and if it was in part made possible by those extraordinary egalitarian times, it was also due to a ferocious work ethic combined with good looks and an enviable easy charm.

It was unlike any style I’d ever seen before: sharp, geometric and precision-cut. Trailblazers: Clothes designer Mary Quant, one of the leading lights of the Sixties British fashion scenes, having her hair cut by another fashion icon, hairdresser Vidal Sassoon with whom she led a fashion revolution Having braved the lift, I sat and watched him, mesmerised: that is my first memory of a man who not only transformed the way I felt about myself irrevocably, but also shaped my distinctive image. Vidal not only created the most famous and important of his cuts, the ‘five-point’ — which became my trademark — but he went on to develop more and more innovative variations.

As the great Sixties photographer Terence Donovan was later to tell me: ‘Of course, Vidal invented the way you look.’ Vidal Sassoon revolutionised the way women thought about their hair. Asymmetric or ‘en brosse’, I enjoyed them all, as so many of us did.

His impoverished mother Betty then sent Vidal and his younger brother Ivor to live with an aunt in the East End in a housing block where four families shared one toilet in the corridor.

Young men from his background in those days tended to become either tailors or hairdressers.

He saw that, like architecture — for which he had a passion — hair could be cut into bold, unfussy, structured shapes.

And it was characteristic of his professional generosity that he set up Vidal Sassoon schools and taught everyone about his haircutting techniques and style.

He leaves this legion of stylists with a legacy of confidence to go on and develop their own ideas.

Aged 14, Vidal, prompted by his dynamic mother, became a trainee hair washer in the local salon.

It was the last thing he wanted, having set his heart on playing football for Chelsea or becoming an architect. He threw tantrums, he chucked his scissors at the ceiling.

Actually, he and I were a team: we complemented each other. He said he liked cutting my hair, particularly because I have a double crown and that makes the hair sit as he liked it to on the back of the head. I was in his Bond Street salon late one evening helping him promote his famous five-point cut.


Vidal’s hairstyles were the perfect balance to my leggy mini-skirted designs; they provided the ideal foil and frame for my Colour Cosmetics make-up. Spurred on by a huge audience, who included the editor of Vogue and a mass of Press photographers, Vidal flourished his scissors and inadvertently nicked a chunk out of the lobe of my ear.

Aujourd'hui, la maman du petit garçon nous raconte son histoire, celle d'une famille qui a surmonté la plus dure des épreuves, dans un livre "Gaspard, entre Terre et Ciel".


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