Hair to the Throne

I love visiting the salon! I am a devoted wearer of hair extensions and I visit my wonderful stylist at least every 8 weeks!

Hair extensions (or ‘weave’ as it more commonly referred to by black women) have  increasingly becoming a staple beauty item for the woman of colour and weekend after weekend talented hairdressers perform their magic and transform the look of countless women  in a matter of hours.

I visited my hairdresser last week and she is a true inspiration.   She opened her small but busy salon in the East End of London 12 years ago and she has astutely managed and grown her business by providing an excellent service at a very fair price. She is an example of the type of enterprising entrepreneurs that this nation needs – entrepreneurs that not only provide an invaluable service to her customers but also vital employment for others.

Her passion is palpable as she tends to your tresses.

As she worked away on the afternoon of my visit, she told me about a program she had watched on the trusty British institution that is the BBC (which has produced some EXCELLENT programming this year – well worth the licence fee!).

Vidal Sassoon CBE - 83 years young! (Image: BBC)

It was a retrospective of the life of the British hairdresser, Vidal Sassoon, CBE – part 4 of the Imagine series on BBC1.

She was practically effervescing as she retold his story – how he ascended from poverty to styling the crème de la crème of the 60’s set – Sassoon is a visionary, an artisan and a connoisseur!  She found him to be a true inspiration.

Sassoon (born 17 January 1928) is credited with creating a simple geometric, “Bauhaus-inspired” hair style, also called the bob.

Nancy Kwan - the image that put Sasson on the world stage

Sassoon’s works include the geometric perm and the famous  “Nancy Kwan” hairstyles. They were all modern and low-maintenance.  In 1963, Sassoon created a short, angular hairstyle cut on a horizontal plane –  The 5 Point Cut  – which has been a key force in the commercial direction of hair styling.

His styling epitomised the revolution of the Britain in the 60s, framing the faces of influencial trend setters such as fashion designer Mary Quant and model Grace Coddington.

Model (and current Creative Director of American Vogue) Grace Coddington showcasing the 5 - point cut

Sassoon and Quant

I have to agree with my hairdresser – he is a true inspiration.

The ‘Twittershere’ was also awash with commendations for the great hairdresser – here are just a few tweets…

@EmmaR_Mac  Just watched BBC’s Imagine; Vidal Sassoon, A Cut Above. What a life. What a man. Amazing. Love him xxx #VidalSassoon

@speckyx  Catching up with the Imagine doc about #VidalSassoon it is bloody brilliant. What a top bloke. Defo getting my graduated bob cut back in!!

@elliesharpe ‘the only place where success come before work is a dictionary’ #VidalSassoon

What I enjoyed the most about the documentary was witnessing Sassoon’s zest for his profession and sheer dedication to being the best he could be. He radiated a contentment that is not often seen – despite a tumultuous personal life, he is genuinely thankful for all he has achieved and attained.

This short video (courtesy of the Telegraph.co.uk) sums up his sentiment to a tee.

Enjoy.

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In the Mix

I am really looking forward to the 3-part BBC series Mixed Britannia, which will unveil the untold history of Britain’s mixed race community.

A mixed couple on their wedding day in the 1940's (Image: BBC)

Race relations have not always been rosy here in the UK – riotsmarches and even murder leave an indelible blemish on the history of the nation – but as a young, black woman, who was born and bred in the UK, I am proud to call myself British.  I am proud to be British because I know that fundamentally the core values of tolerance and acceptance are weaved into the very fabric of society and are upheld by the vast majority of citizens.

According to the BBC News website, the mixed-race (or multiracial) demographic is the fastest growing ethnic minority in the UK and the number of mixed-race people in Britain is expected to double between 2001 and 2020, when demographers predict it will reach 1.3 million people.

I thought that it would be fitting to pay tribute to some of the leading British women of mixed heritage, who are making an impact in our nation and around the world.

Jade Thompson for Revlon - The winner of Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model 2011

Thandie Newton - Cambridge educated, A-list actress

Zadie Smith - award winning novelist, essayist and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of New York

Oona Tamsyn King, Baroness of Bow and former Labour MP

Dame Kelly Holmes, DBE, MBE - Double Olympic Gold medallist

Dame Linda Penelope Dobbs, DBE, styled The Honourable Mrs Justice Dobbs - the first non-white person to be appointed to the senior judiciary of England and Wales, being appointed a high court judge in 2004

Leona Lewis - Hackney born, mega songstress

Mixed Britannia will begin tomorrow (6th October) on BBC 2 at 9pm.