Vidal Sassoon has always been a cut above the average hairstylist-to-the-stars.
The iconic stylist, now the subject of the intriguing documentary “Vidal Sassoon: The Movie,” has long been a trailblazer in the world of chic tresses: his Beverly Hills salon helped put Rodeo Drive on the glam map, and as a TV pitchman for his own pioneering product line he practically invented the now-common trend of Hollywood-insider-as-a-celebrity-unto-themselves.
Always an engaging storyteller, Sassoon shared his earliest brushes with Hollywood and his own fame with PopcornBiz, beginning by allowing director Roman Polanksi borrow his London salon to shoot a scene for his film “Repulsion” in 1965.
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“Roman was filming Catherine Deneuve on our balcony and he said, 'I'll only be here two days.' He stayed six,” remembered Sassoon. “He was responsible for bringing me over [to Hollywood] to do Mia Farrow's hair for 'Rosemary's Baby'. She was a client anyway in London.”
The resultant haircut – conducted on a soundstage before a small army of journalists – became an overnight fashion sensation. “We cut it very, very short,” says Sassoon. “It's the only way that we could do it because it was short, and it had gotten so much coverage – she was Mrs. Frank Sinatra at the time. Middle America had never seen me and never heard of me – why would they? – and suddenly I was all over the television box. We were known on the fringes, the fashion world and what have you – but that went over on television, magazines, newspapers, all over Middle America and certainly I was known [afterwards].”
“I owed Mia a lot,” he explains. “She was a very special client and a humanitarian – big style – with the way that she was. As we sat down to cut her hair in front of all these photographers and writers she said 'What are you doing here photographing a haircut while the indigenous Americans are starving?' She kept on for about five minutes of pure politics. Then Roman said 'Mia – change the subject.' So she got in to the hair and from then on we had a great time. “
The only minus may have been the fallout from Sinatra himself, who was none too happy with his bride’s boyish style (the couple ultimately split over further differences about “Rosemary’s Baby”).
“Well, I wasn't too mad about his, actually,” sniffs Sassoon.
“Doing things like that created a situation where you became known in Middle America which was important, especially when you were selling products and wanting to, yes, be known, of course,” admits Sassoon. “Let’s face it: when you put that much hard work and that much energy and thought and gut into a situation…yeah, you want to be known.”