how vidal sassoon changed my life

A writer friend of mine, Beth Finke, teaches a memoir writing class. She asked her students to write about a celebrity’s death that made them really sad. (You can read the post here.) One of her students wrote about Vidal Sassoon. At my request, she posted his essay here. His passing was very sad for me too. I’m not a hairstylist, but his technique became a major part of my life. I dug up what I wrote in 2012 and I’ll post it here. Thank you, Beth, for motivating me to post this!


How Vidal Sassoon Changed my Life

When I entered the London Sassoon Academy as a shy 18 year old girl, the creative director asked, “Are you looking for a change?” I had no idea that phrase would be the caption of my life for the next fourteen years. Every few months, I was given the opportunity to hair model for the Vidal Sassoon salon in London and back home in Chicago. The hair modeling adventure pulled me in and like any other addiction, I couldn’t stop. The company made such an impact that I became a receptionist for the Chicago salon for five years.

I am a platform for the seasonal hair collections. With the color and cut changing every few months, my hair attracts attention wherever I go. People stop me walking down Michigan Avenue to ask, “Where did you get your haircut?”

The day I met Vidal started as a typical day of prepping for a hair show at the salon. Stylists pacing, cutting, and shaping hair. The local stylists made room for the international creative team as they poured in from various cities to Chicago, finding their creative space. The international creative director was cutting my hair as Vidal strolled into the salon. Some stylists cheered. Some cried. I sat on the edge of my seat. Sassoon stood, arms crossed, and watched Tim Hartley cut my hair. After a few moments, he whispered to Tim that he needed to add this haircut to the next collection. He took pictures with the staff, gave hugs and left.

modeling backstage, purple hair, midwest hair show

(photo of haircut by Tim Hartley, approved by Vidal Sassoon himself!)

His technique, taught in salons throughout the world, demonstrates to stylists how to treat hair like a canvas and hairstyling an art. They see geometric shapes, vibrant colors, dimensions. They find inspiration in architecture. I admire these stylists and colorists who devote their lives to this evolving hair education. Truly, I see how the stylists admire the man who changed the world with his pioneering hair techniques. In the midst of devoting their lives to his method, the experience of meeting Vidal was meeting their idol. An icon.  I am glad that I got to be a small part of it all. Thank you Vidal for changing my life. You will be missed.

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