Acclaimed hairdresser Vidal Sassoon has died at home surrounded by loved ones after losing a battle with leukaemia, his family said.
The 84-year-old London-born crimper who invented the “bob” hairstyle which epitomised the Swinging Sixties, died at his home in Los Angeles.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Vidal Sassoon CBE, who died at his home in Los Angeles surrounded by loved ones,” the family said in a statement.
“The 84-year-old hairdresser was born in 1928 and sadly lost his battle with leukaemia.
“He became the most celebrated hairdresser in the world having begun his career as an apprentice during the Second World War, going on to revolutionise an industry through his iconic haircuts, salons, schools and product lines.
“He will be greatly missed by his wife of 20 years Ronnie, his children, grandchildren, family and friends.”
The four-times married celebrity stylist, made a CBE in 2009, revolutionised hairdressing with his free and easy creations like the bob. He created a network of academies and lent his name to various hair products, turning his craft into a multimillion-dollar industry.
Among his most famous clients were Quant, the model Jean Shrimpton and film star Terence Stamp.
Celebrity hairdresser Nicky Clarke was among those who paid tribute to him, saying he had lost a close friend who despite his advancing years retained an infectious vibrancy.
“He was truly one of the greatest icons of hairdressing. We all owe a debt to him,” he said.
“This is one of the times when people say nice things about people out of respect but I don’t think I could have found anyone to say a bad word about him two weeks ago.
“Certainly he was part of the original Cool Britannia, he is synonymous with that time. He would be one of the top five Swinging Sixties icons along with the Beatles, Carnaby Street, Mary Quant and the Union Jack.”
Born to Jewish parents, Sassoon also fought with the Israeli army in the War of Independence in 1948 and founded the Vidal Sassoon International Centre for the Study of Anti-Semitism in 1982.
On his return to the UK after the Israeli war, Sassoon worked for famous London hairdresser Raymond “Mr Teasy-Weasy” Bessone before opening his own Bond Street salon in 1958 and developing a style far removed from the intensive creations of the time.
Clarke said the “humble” Sassoon had revolutionised hairdressing, bringing his love of Modernism and the Bauhaus movement into his work so that it was “all about the cut” rather than excessive styling.
“Like all revolutionaries he went to the other extreme,” he said. “What he did was bring in a form based on Modernism. He just brought that to hair that worked in terms of it being all about the cut.”
Neil Cornelius, 36, whose salon now occupies the same New Bond Street site as Sassoon’s first solo venture, said the world had lost a “hairdressing legend”.
He spoke about how the global star had come to his Neil Cornelius 1st Floor salon last year to see his former base.
“It is very, very sad because I grew up in the East End like Vidal and from the age of 11 I wanted to be a hairdresser like Vidal,” he said.
“I remember the first time I met him. I have washed the hair of Princess Diana, I have met Nelson Mandela, but meeting Vidal Sassoon topped all of those.
“I know it sounds crazy but I could not sleep (before) the first time I met him. He was a hairdressing legend.”
Fellow celebrity hairdresser Lee Stafford paid tribute, saying: “Vidal Sassoon revolutionised the way everybody wears their hair today, he also made British hairdressing the best in the world, he was my hero.”