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VIDAL SASSOON RIP: Charity legacy

10/05/2012 by Alan Cole in the UK

Hairdressing pioneer leaves a lasting legacy with his practical stylings and good natured approach to business

Vidal Sassoon was more than a hairdresser, or a simple barber, he was synonymous with the cultural changes of the swinging sixties, and especially the women's liberation movement...

However, the hairdresser, entrepreneur and philanthropist, who was known for his very debonair flair with words and a passion for life, also combined action, supporting many good causes, including fighting fascists in London in the late 40s.

He is most known and will be remembered for creating that whole new look for women that is synonymous with London's Carnaby Street hey day in the sixties, all short, sharp angles and sweeping curves, bobs...

He spoke regularly about his desire to liberate women from curlers and complex 'friseur' creations that towered above their heads, and were totally unpractical for the changing lives of women in post-war Britain.

Especially as more women started to choose professional working lives, often combined with child rearing and home making, and in many cases lives completely independent of men...

Jean Shrimpton, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Elizabeth Taylor, Mary Quant, Twiggy and Mia Farrow sported some of his famous, attractive but practical as well as stunning looks, that were chosen by millions of women worldwide that wanted to combine vigour with glamour, and to this day continue to be a fashion choice for many women from all kinds of backgrounds.

However, along with looking good on the move, a theme running through interviews with the British born hairdresser over the years, who has died at the age of 84 after fighting leukaemia, is that he appeared convinced that doing good works, as well as looking good was also vital to one's health and wellbeing, as a form of upbeat, spiritual integrity...

Born into poverty in London Sassoon achieved enormous fame due to his passion for what he did – a simple hairdresser starting with a humble apprenticeship in Mayfair – he took the art of hairdressing to a whole new cultural level.

Much of his success was based on understanding his audience and connecting with the positive cultural changes that were occurring in Britain's post-war period and especially the sixties, synonymous with fun and all action, but also about politics and equality...

Being brought up in poor circumstances, from Jewish ancestry he was an early member of the legendary 43 Group that fought fascists in London in the late 1940s, a memory that showed a steely side to his character in contrast to the softer imagery of shampoo and hairdressing salons that he is more commonly associated with.

Later in 1982 he founded the non-profit Vidal Sassoon International Centre (SICSA), a research group dedicated to non-political approaches aimed at healing the scourge of anti-Semitism.

He became an active supporter of charities and good causes especially as his career took off. In the eighties at the height of his fame and success as a business entrepreneur he sold his business and concentrated on philanthropy and charity work.

Causes he actively supported via his Vidal Sassoon Foundation were the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the Performing Arts Council of the Music Centre of Los Angeles.

He was also energetic in supporting various charities' relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina...

Sassoon, who always struck a pose as a gentle, thoughtful man in love with life and whatever he was involved in has died at his home in Los Angeles...

Born in 1928, the world's most celebrated hairdresser will create fond memories for those interested in achieving that perfect look or who saw any of his numerous chat show appearances, adverts and other self-promotions.

His work suggested that there was nothing wrong with all of that but beyond the vanity of fashion, there was an underlying sense that the real rewards of life are obviously found in much more profound activities than the shape of your hair, or the cut of your cloth...

Not to overestimate his importance on a global scale but he achieved through an unlikely path in life that you can spread a lot of joy and goodwill no matter who you are or what your profession is.

Ultimately memories of Vidal Sassoon: look good and be good...

He embodied a spirit that said: nourishing the self and the soul and taking care of yourself, does not exclude fun, and can be combined in equal measure with helping others...

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Written and edited in London and Geneva All Xperedon news articles are original and are written by the Xperedon news team. The team is headed in the UK by Alan Cole, an experienced award-winning journalist and copywriter. Alan has previously worked in-house for UK publishers, Pearson Media (Financial Times) and Northcliffe Newspapers, among others, and is an accredited member of the National Union of Journalists, UK.

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