Vidal Sassoon: Remembering an L.A. style icon
When most people think of the British-born Vidal Sassoon, who died Wednesday at age 84, they think Carnaby Street.
But he also had a role in shaping Los Angeles as a city of style.
"He opened a salon on Rodeo Drive when Beverly Hills was just coming of age among trendsetters," said Rose Apodaca, author and former Los Angeles bureau chief of Women's Wear Daily. "And he saw Los Angeles as this exciting place where rules were being broken. We know about swinging London; he saw Los Angeles as an extension of that."
He was drawn to the avant-garde fashion and art scene in 1960s and '70s L.A. that revolved around designer Rudi Gernreich and model-muse Peggy Moffitt (pictured with him above), who has worn Sassoon's famous five-point haircut since 1965.
"I can remember showing him Rudi's sketches and explaining how he and Rudi were doing something very similar by thinking architecturally and not out of the same old box," Moffitt said Thursday.
When Sassoon moved here permanently in 1973, he fully embraced the L.A. lifestyle, becoming a major museum benefactor and modern art collector, and restoring homes by Neutra and others. He was also a fitness enthusiast, early to the trend of Pilates and an avid swimmer.
"Vidal always loved Los Angeles," said Etienne Taenaka, manager of the Sassoon salon in Beverly Hills. "He used to say the street is the longest runway in the world. And he loved looking at people here. He’d say, 'Etienne, she has tremendous style.'”
Through his Vidal Sassoon hairstyling schools, he influenced people of all ages. "He was a gentleman, genuine and generous," said Taenaka, adding that a memorial event is being planned for the fall.
"He always thought of the other person, which stems from his beginnings as a very poor kid from the East End. In a number of ways, his career was all about recognizing youth and giving them opportunities. When he would walk into any of our academies, people just clamored to be with him."
To read more about Sassoon's legacy in L.A., click here.
-- Booth Moore
Photo: Hairstylist Vidal Sassoon and model Peggy Moffitt attend a screening of "Vidal Sassoon: The Movie" at the Hammer Museum on Feb. 15, 2011 in Los Angeles. Credit: David Livingston/Getty Images.