There is really no other name in the industry of hairdressing that anyone from London, England to Boise, Idaho could recognize. And, with that sort of fame – which is difficult to attain for someone in any medium – it seems long overdue that a documentary, entitled Vidal Sassoon: How One Man Changed the World With a Pair of Scissors, about this man’s cultural impact should be released.
Just like Sassoon himself, the film takes an original approach to chronicling the life of a (hair)style icon in that, rather than evincing the tone of a biopic-type documentary in the vein of The September Issue (detailing the quest of Anna Wintour to complete the most important issue of Vogue‘s calendar year) – creating distance between the film’s subject and its viewer - Vidal Sassoon receives a form of active and candid involvement from the haircutting guru that is unparalleled in most other recent documentaries. A man as passionate about haircutting as he is about life and the Chelsea Football Club, Sassoon reveals more about his personal nature in the span of an hour and thirty minutes than most people reveal in years of therapy.
Covering primarily the decade of the sixties, when you couldn’t walk down Bond Street without seeing one of Sassoon’s signature five-point haircuts, the film’s highlights include a discourse between Sassoon and fellow sixties legend Mary Quant (innovator of the mini-skirt) and Sassoon’s account of his time working on Mia Farrow‘s hair for Rosemary’s Baby.
Hailing from modest beginnings, Sassoon was coerced into apprenticing for a hairdresser by his mother, who was forced to place both him and his brother in an orphanage for seven years because of how abjectly poor she was. Additionally, Sassoon suffered the discrimination that went with being Jewish in a staunchly Protestant country in the 1930s. Sassoon's dealings with struggle, however, seemed only to fortify his zeal for success.
As the documentary also highlights, Sassoon is a man extremely devoted to his personal life--perhaps even more than he is to his empire. Four children and three former wives (he is now married to his fourth wife, Rhonda) to speak of make that much apparent. The death of one of his daughters, Catya Sassoon, from a drug-related heart attack at the age of 33 also took an emotional toll on Sassoon. But it undoubtedly served as one of the many events in his life that have put his career in perspective. As the undisputed pioneer of the hairdressing industry, Sassoon's self-effacing groundedness exhibits what a truly unique public figure he is.