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Vidal—The Autobiography
by Vidal Sassoon
ISBN 978-0-230-74689-3
Published February 2011 - Hardcover - 360 pages - $27.95

Vidal Sassoon's life now couldn't be further from that at the early stages of his life.  Born in Shepherd's Bush, London, he lived with his mother and brother after his father left them.  Then they all crammed into his aunt's flat in the East End, and he recalls their living conditions and how poor they were.  His mother however, tried her best to entertain and reassure her two sons that they'd be alright.  This was around the early 1930s.  His stories of growing up are touching, and at age five he went to live in an orphanage (his brother followed 18 months later) for seven years.  Things were just too crowded in his aunt's flat.  During the war they were moved into the country and were joined by his mother and her new husband, a gem of a man.  Before long they were back in London, and young Vidal had to go to work.  After working at a glove factory in the country, and having delivered newspapers, he became a message deliverer in London.  Then, along came Mr. Cohen, his mother's premonition, and a new career blossomed for the young Vidal.  However, a stint in the Israeli army was to come first, as he enlisted to help build a new nation before he was to meet his mentor, Silvio Camillo, and later to find work in Mayfair.  At 26 he'd opened his first salon in Bond Street and decided to be different.  He looked at a client's bone structure, hair texture, and styled accordingly, which was wonderful as styles began emerging that were technically different and daring.  He developed the 5-point bob.  He also hired apprentices which his stylists taught, rather than hiring "staff".  He was on to a winning formula and life was never the same.  The sixties in London weren't called the Swinging Sixties for nothing, and Sassoon recalls the hip people he worked with, styled, and hung out with.  The likes of Michael Caine, Terence Stamp, Terence Donovan, David Bailey, Mary Quant, Twiggy, Suzy Parker, and many others.  Having photographer friends like Bailey and Donovan helped put his work out there.  Sassoon was responsible for the famous bobs on Nancy Kwan and Mary Quant.  The enormous amount of people he met and befriended throughout his life is staggering.  The man even had his own TV chat show!  He talks about his family, life, friends, colleagues, and staff with genuine affection.  I love that his humanitarian deeds are ongoing and without media fanfare.  Bravo!  I was a Wash and Go devotee in the eighties when I lived in London.
Conclusion - A wonderful story of a poor East End Jewish boy with extraordinary talent who made it to the top.  The very top.

book cover

Review copy not supplied by publisher - library copy reviewed.

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