It seemed that overnight the earth had shifted on its axis. Talent ruled. The young outnumbered the old. You could even be a working class hero.
Peter Blake made an album cover into famous art, for The Beatles. Antonioni blew up his most seen film for a Jack the Lad photographer. Mary Quant borrowed clothes off Bridget Riley’s back. And, for the first time, an East End hairdresser stepped up to become a popular celebrity.
This was a new era of popular culture, where Twiggy teetered, Bailey snapped and Sassoon cut. Yet the hairdresser’s fame and influence on his craft lasted longer than his geometric hairstyles. In connecting with the catwalk, Vidal Sassoon had connected with a tectonic shift in society.
Over two decades, he graduated from hairdresser to celebrity to brand. The products that bore his name sold well and his licensing deals spanned the globe. All was well, until the memory of his fashion statements grew dim.
Then one day, twenty five years after Vidal first saw the footlights, an art gallery mounted a retrospective of his work, historic images culminating in a catwalk. A young advertising agency captured the story on film and the Sassoon brand strutted its stuff once more.
As sales revived, so did the legend. Many were to profit, from London Fashion Week to Procter & Gamble. To this day in Japan, where the brand’s fashion story is zealously recounted, the Vidal Sassoon name still outranks others from the outside world. A documentary based on his story has been for many years at the heart of sales training. With employees and customers around the world, this story – of the working class hero who defined hair as fashion – still touches a nerve.
The advertising man who put the Vidal Sassoon brand back on the catwalk (and then on Wash & Go) became a brand consultant and, based on such stories, helped found the firm, brandstory. He now warmly recalls the debt he owes Vidal and his personal testimonial.