In the name of the father
Hair-salon mogul Vidal Sassoon combined a sense of equanimity with a hard edge, recalls son Elan.
Away from the spotlight, celebrity hairstylist Vidal Sass-oon was a philosophical man. Every birthday, from the time his son Elan was 10 until he was 21, Vidal gave him a copy of Kahlil Gibran’s 1923 tome The Prophet – inspirational essays on love, family, work and death. “I was like, ‘Dad, I’ve got 11 copies – you’ve really got to stop giving it to me,’ ” says Elan, smiling.
“He said, ‘You can never learn the fundamentals of humanity enough.’”
It’s not what you might expect from the flamboyant showman who worked his way up from 14-year-old shampoo boy to open the world’s first international chain of hairdressing salons.
From London to Paris to Manhattan, Vidal Sassoon’s Bauhaus-inspired salons and geometric haircuts – improvised on Grace Coddington, Mary Quant and Nancy Kwan – came to symbolise the swinging ’60s.
Unlike his father, whose impish enthusiasm was wrapped in a Cockney accent softened by elocution lessons, Elan is quietly spoken, his relaxed friendliness and long vowels giving away his Californian upbringing.
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