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1960s

When Vidal Sassoon opened his first salon at 108 Bond Street, London in 1954 the teased bouffant and beehive dominated hair fashion. Hair was curled and waved using rollers, back-combing and heavy lacquer to hold it in place and visiting the local hair salon every week was a standard beauty ritual. Sassoon believed that if the cut was technically perfect there would be no need to use anything to hold it in place; hair would fall naturally back into the correct shape. Hair should be ‘Material in motion,’ easy to care for and versatile.

Sassoon cited the architecture of the Bauhaus, a German design school of the 1920s, as his inspiration. His ambition became to create an equivalent in hair by ‘Getting rid of the superfluous and paring it right back to basics.’ The Five Point of 1963 worn by fashion designer Mary Quant and models Grace Coddington and Peggy Moffitt was one of the first cuts to use Sassoon’s new architecturally inspired principles. It was a pared-down hairstyle that, although deceptively simple to look at, was an exercise in architectural geometry. Hair was cut short at the nape and gradually lengthened towards the face with the ends left blunt for a full thick look that swung easily and fell perfectly into shape. Vidal described the cut as ‘The hardest to achieve. That was pure geometry.’

Sassoon ‘Swinging London’ haircuts were so innovative they graced the catwalk at the launch of Ungaro and Emannuelle Khanh in Paris and transformed actress Nancy Kwan whose waist-length hair was cut into the iconic A Line bob. In 1967 Mia Farrow was given a short Pixie cut on the sound stage at Paramount Studios for the film Rosemary’s Baby (1969) name-checked on screen in, ‘It’s Vidal Sassoon! It’s very in.” By the end of the decade women were liberated from the hair salon: they could now wash and wear their hair themselves only having to return to Sassoon for a monthly trim – the culture of curlers was obsolete.