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 sums up his sentiment to a tee.


What’s the Alternative?

On Sunday evening I attended the 28th annual Alternative Hair Show at the grandiose Royal Albert Hall in London.

This spectacular extravaganza attracts stylists from the four corners of the world – all eager to experience the very best in avant-garde styling.

Tony Rizzo - founder of Alternative Hair

Following the death of his son from a rare form of leukaemia, Tony Rizzo, the  event’s founder (who is described as one of the most influential hairdressers in the world),  launched the show in 1983, to help raise funds for research into this debilitating disease.   At the time, leukaemia was still a poorly understood illness that affected both children and adults, often with tragic consequences.

From humble beginnings, the Alternative Hair Show has grown into a prestigious hairdressing event, hosting leading teams and inspirational hair artists from all over the globe.

To date the  Alternative Hair Show has raised over £8 million and is a key supporter of the charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, the only UK charity solely dedicated to research into blood cancers, including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

The show was a sensory explosion! The lighting,  choreography and styling were AMAZING!!

It was great to see the maestros of British hairdressing take to the stage, including  Anthony Mascalo (of the mighty Toni and Guy empire) and  Anne Veck – an award winning avant-garde stylist.  I was also enamoured by the creations of leading artistic teams from names that are synonymous with the British hairdressing industry – the likes of  Collinge, Sassoon and TIGI.

The turnout for the event was phenomenal – so many stylists came out in full force to support this worthy cause and to celebrate their chosen art – and it was certainly a pleasure to behold!