POSTED May 9 2012

Vidal Sassoon, Mia Farrow and the Haircut That Changed Everything

Vidal Sassoon on the Paramount soundstage, with Mia Farrow

Vidal Sassoon, barber to the stars and of the people, passed away today at the age of 84. Fashion designer Mary Quant called him “The Chanel of Hair,” but he was more of populist than couturier, this man who liberated women from the care and high-maintenance of bouffants that made women look like they had topiaries on their heads. He had the revolutionary idea that a haircut should flatter the shape of the client’s head and face. And after he sheared a woman’s locks (the geometric five-point cut, a modernist version of the bob, was his most popular number) he would make her stand up and shake hear head to test his artistry: A good haircut fell back into place. A bad haircut did not.

In 1968, at the invitation of director Roman Polanski, Sassoon was invited to cut the long, California-blonde locks of Mia Farrow for the movie Rosemary’s Baby at the cost of $5,000. Adjusted for inflation, that’s $33,000 today. Sassoon gave good value. He was a showman and made it a Happening, cutting Farrow’s hair in a flattering Pixie on a Paramount soundstage as hundreds of reporters watched and promoted the Polanski film. It was a moment, as anthropologist Grant McCracken noted in his book Big Hair, when “the Old World of hair collapsed.” And Old Hollywood with it. That haircut,  Farrow’s signature style in the late 1960s , liberated women from hair rollers to make their bouffants and irons to flatten their curtains of hair.  Farrow was the messenger of a youthquake. And 45 years later, it still looks fresh: Michelle Williams has a version of it now. So though Sassoon is gone, he is still with us.



  1. Jennifer Kotter says:

    ah the memories, memories….. and such beautiful shapes were our heads! (til it grew out…..)

  2. Jennifer Kotter says:

    but not to the tune of thousands by any means…. we were students afterall….

  3. Horse Badorties says:

    Jean Seaberg was waay ahead on this. How about dsome props to her?

  4. admin says:

    @Horse: You are right, but Seberg was in the “P.B.” era — Pre-Bouffant, and Farrow after.

  5. Horse Badorties says:

    Astrid Kirchherr was also PB. Beatles Hamburg gak pal.

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