The King Is Dead

May 09 2012

Vidal Sassoon and the Bauhaus

Today is a sad day as one of my all-time heroes and a true inno­va­tor — Vidal Sas­soon has passed away at the age of 84. Sas­soon was respon­si­ble for sin­gle hand­edly rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing the world of hair­dress­ing in the early 60’s and his book Vidal Sas­soon and the Bauhaus (see image above) was my bible whilst learn­ing my trade (I used to be a hair­dresser) at Har­ganget in Stock­holm from 1999–2003 (Har­ganget at the time was prob­a­bly the most for­ward think­ing and vibrant salon out­side of London).

Sas­soon rev­o­lu­tionised hair­dress­ing by doing away with all the old-fashioned, time con­sum­ing and unman­age­able styles of the time and enforc­ing the doc­trine “form fol­lows func­tion”. This approach imme­di­ately made hair­cuts more acces­si­ble and main­tain­able by the client (ring any bells). Instead of styles that took an hour to blow dry, women (and to a lesser, though not any less sig­nif­i­cant extent) men could have styl­ish, func­tional, yet beau­ti­fully designed hair­cuts that didn’t require half your morn­ing to style. He did this by putting the empha­sis on the process and tech­nique of cut­ting hair, clean sec­tion­ing, pre­cise geo­met­ric shapes, fas­tid­i­ous atten­tion to detail and an aware­ness of shape, tex­ture, tone and form that was unheard of before then.

Vidal Sassoon
The Swal­low Tail — 1975

This also came at the time of the “sex­ual rev­o­lu­tion” of the mid 60’s when women started to aspire to some­thing more that cook­ing and clean­ing, they wanted the same free­doms that men had enjoyed, careers, inde­pen­dence and their own lives, labo­ri­ous and bloated hair­styles had no room here.

Vidal Sassoon
The Asym­met­ri­cal Isadora — 1969

When embark­ing on my career in design some 4 years ago I was pleas­antly sur­prised at how much of the knowl­edge and skills I had acquired whilst work­ing as a hair styl­ist where trans­fer­able over to the web design world. The notion of mak­ing web­sites acces­si­ble, usable, sim­ple yet aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing, com­mer­cial yet still indi­vid­ual, replic­a­ble yet still bespoke and mod­ern yet time­less is exactly the same way I used to approach cut­ting hair and I have Sas­soon to thank for that. Rest in peace good sir, you will be missed.