Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hair Heroes / Beauty Book Review

Interviews with the world's most influential hairdressers of the 20th century by Michael Gordon. The son of a London hairdresser, Michael began his career at the age of fifteen as a apprentice at Rene' of Mayfair and went on to found the world famous "Bumble and Bumble Salon", product company and hairdressing school in New York City.  

Kenneth Barttelle / Gene Shacove / Christiann
Aldo Coppola
/ Irma Kusely / Sydney Guilaroff

Annie Humphreys / Sam Lapin / Leonard Lewis

Luis Iiongueras / Alexandre de' Paris  /  Vidal Sassoon

In Hair Heroes Michael Gordon takes you on a journey around the world to meet his personal hair heroes. The interviews cover twelve hairdressers that personally influenced his career and set the pace and standards for hair fashions in the 20th century. The question and answer format is filled with personal pictures rarely seen before. From Alexendre de' Paris to Vidal Sassoon and other notables you may not know but all will inspire you none the less. What they have to say about their career's and the beauty industry will both surprise and inspire you. The following are Mikael's candid interviews with two of my Hair Heroes. 

In the world of hairdressing, if Vidal Sassoon were the architect of hair styling Alexandre would be considered the king. Simply known as Alexandra de’ Paris__ he has single handedly helped defined the industry for more than 60 plus years. 

Michael: Who was your hair hero when you were young? Alexendre: My teacher Antoine, he taught me the art of beauty and service to women. I worked with him from 1938 to 1952. First in Cannes on the French Riviera, then afterwards at Salon Antoine on rue Cambon, it was the biggest in Paris. It was he who in 1925, brought French hairstyling to America. He defined the modern look for hairdressing at the time.

Michael: Why did you become a hairdresser? Alexendre: I grew up in Florence in a family that was quite artistic. The wife of a great painter introduced me to hairdressing.  It was predicted when I was a child that the “wife of a king” would make me famous and it came true. It was while working at Salon Antoine that the Duchess of Windsor became my patron _ she was a great friend.

Michael: What advice would you give a young person starting today? Alexendre: Never stop learning your craft. We need extraordinary people, people who are dedicated to their art and craft. 

Vidal would have loved to be an architect. Fortunately for us, he was destined to become the master hairdresser, able to transfer his passion for angles into another medium. Indeed, Vidal Sassoon is the modern day architect of hair styling. Charming and engaging, he talks about his life, his work, and the future with the enthusiasm of a beauty school student.

Michael: Which years were the most important for you? Your styles were so revolutionary at the time. Vidal: In 1954 I opened my salon on Bond Street. I decided I wouldn’t do anyone who wanted to come in and have their hair teased. I was not going to do bouffant hair styles. It was as simple as that. From 1954 to 1958 we were still getting out of our old ways of styling. Then in 1964 we did the five point geometric haircut and everything followed. 

Michael: How much do you pay attention to fashion today? Vidal: Today, we seem to have become the pawns of the fashion designers who tell us what kind of hair styles to do__ that is outrageous. When we did shows for Mary Quant, Gernreich and Ungaro, the attitude was, “do what you feel.” Now, it’s: here’s what the designer is doing, style the hair to it. We have become secondary to a bunch of designers. 

Hair Heroes is a must read for hair stylists that love what they do and the history of the beauty industry. We all stand on one another’s shoulders. That’s how we and our Nobel professional grows and evolves. Hair Heroes offers twelve strong shoulders to stand on. It’s a page turner and has found a permanent place on my book shelf.

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