Salon Business News

Vidal Sassoon Remembered: The Industry Pays Tribute

Alison Alhamed | May 9, 2012 | 1:25 PM
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Vidal Sassoon, pictured here at America's Beauty Show in March 2011, has died at age 84.
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MODERNs Alison Shipley—fulfilling a her dream of meeting Vidal Sassoon at ABS Chicago 2011 for the premiere of Vidal Sassoon The Movie.
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Denny Dayviss in 1963 getting finished by Vidal Sassoon.
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Brig Van Osten, owner of P!ay Hair Lounge, with VIdal.
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MODERN SALON Media archives.
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MODERN SALON Media archives.
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MODERN SALON Media archives.
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Vidal Sassoon, 1972. MODERN SALON Media archives.
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Angus Mitchell with Vidal.
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Paula Kent Meehan with Vidal.
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SALON TODAY Editor Stacey Soble with Vidal at the West Coast premiere of Vidal Sassson: The Movie.
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Frank Gironda with Vidal. Photo: Babak for 2011 ABS.
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Vidal Sassoon with Paul DiGrigoli
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Former MODERN editor Laurel Nelson with Vidal Sassoon.
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The Penzones with Vidal.
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Sassoon with Helen Oppenheim.
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Add your Sassoon Tribute to the Comments section at the bottom of the page, or click here.

MODERN SALON Media reports that professional beauty industry legend and icon Vidal Sassoon has died at age 84 at his California home, on May 9, 2012. Sassoon was best known for revolutionizing the salon industry and hair fashion with his ready-to-wear cuts and his innovative approach to education. MODERN SALON will continue to report on this story as the industry mourns this loss.

In lieu of flowers, The Sassoon family requests donations to be sent to American Friends of The Hebrew University in support of The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Vidal Sassoon: A Life in Pictures
Vintage Vidal: Throwback Sassoon Commercials
Sassoon Family Releases Statement

Mark Hayes, Sassoon International Creative Director: Vidal Sassoon passed away at the age of 84 after a long and courageous battle with leukemia. Our industry has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. The world rarely encounters someone who had the profound impact that Vidal has had, and everyone in the industry is indebted to Vidal’s courage and single-minded vision, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. All of us at Sassoon will miss him dearly, and we will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much.

John Paul DeJoria, dear friend of Vidal Sassoon; CEO and Co-Founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems: Vidal Sassoon was scheduled to have dinner and sit with me at my table with Winn Claybaugh, dean of the Paul Mitchell Schools on Monday night at the Paul Mitchell Schools' 'Magic of Memories' event. Whatever Vidal could do for the professional beauty industry… he did and always showed up. He called three days before the dinner to say he really wanted to be there, but his body was feeling just a little bit too tired and that he would be there in spirit. Vidal Sassoon was the most famous hairstylist in the history of the world. He has left his earthly body and is now joining his top student and infamous hair artist Cyril T. Mitchell, aka Paul Mitchell, styling hair and developing new looks for the heavenly ones. Good hairstylists never die. Vidal Sassoon and Paul Mitchell will always live on… only in a more spiritual kingdom.

Tony Beckerman, former Sassoon stylist and educator, owner/founder, TSB-Cutting Edge Resources: Yes, it is a sad time, but I was fortunate enough to have known the man for over 50 years and, during that time, he not only became my mentor and teacher but also my good friend. He called me on Monday, two days before he died, just to chat. He was in great spirits and when I asked him how he was feeling, he wanted to change the subject, he just said "Tony, I can’t complain, I've had a wonderful life and enjoyed every moment of it." We spoke no more about his health and went on to talking about other things. Although we all mourn his passing, I am celebrating his life. Life is what he celebrated and he would want us to practice what he had been preaching all of his life. Be the best, never settle for mediocrity, you're only as good as your next student on their way up the ladder, never give up. Personally, I will really miss him, his warmth, dry sense of humor, kindness and humanity.

Maggie Mulhern, Beauty and Fashion Director, MODERN SALON Media: The death of Vidal Sassoon is a tremendous loss to our industry and to the world. Not only did he improve the lives of professional hairdressers on many levels but he was able to change the perception of our industry so that the general public could see salon professionals as artists. A true gentleman, Vidal treated everyone with respect and earned the respect and adoration he received from others. I can’t wait to celebrate his life by sharing my many memories of my encounters with this wise, generous, creative, talented, insightful and wonderful man. Vidal lived a rich and full life and made us all so proud to be part of the craft of hair. Our industry is heartbroken and personally I extend my condolences to Ronnie, Elan, Ariel and the entire Sassoon family. We are all so sad.

"If you just do something, then you're a five-year wonder and, goodbye, you're gone. But if people feel it's worthwhile, not only do they copy but they want to learn how to do it... To me, that's what it's all about. If someone were to ask me, 'What's the number one thing, in essence, that you left behind?' It was the teaching of others so that they could take my work and take it further." - Vidal Sassoon via Vidal Sassoon The Movie

Michele Musgrove, Editorial Director, MODERN SALON Media: Vidal Sassoon was an inspiration and champion for salon professionals around the globe and through the decades. His geometric approach to hair cutting and education not only changed how hair was cut, styled and worn in the ‘60s and ‘70s, he elevated the craft and professionalism of hairdressing, and continued to do so throughout his lifetime. He always spoke fondly and enthusiastically about students and future salon professionals, and how excited he was about where they would lead the industry. His legacy will be the beauty, art and opportunity he passed on to hair designers past, present and future.

Melissa Stone, Creative Director,  Sojourn Beauty: What Vidal Sassoon meant to me personally is more than words can say. He was the man who made my career path and life possible. He paved the way for greatness and integrity in my chosen field of hair. His influence intellectually and creatively, in every decade, is  immeasurable. I am one of the lucky ones who got to work side by side with him. Share personal moments with him and his family. Every moment was monumental. I feel fortunate to be able to continue his vision through the work I do everyday. Passion, grace, integrity, education and greatness are a few words that I live by and give Thanks to Vidal to instilling that into my work ethic and technique. Vidal, I will miss you everyday and thank you for all you have done for the world.

Diane Fishman, Author, Vidal Sassoon: 50 Years Ahead: There can never be another Vidal Sassoon—just like there can never be another Beatles revolution. Vidal's vision and talent shook up the beauty world forever. His legacy lives on in the hands of every hair stylist today, and tomorrow.



Garren: I am deeply saddened by the death of Vidal Sassoon. He was not only one of the world’s best hairdressers, he was a master hair cutter. Vidal was one of my biggest inspirations as a young man and still today. His work was innovative and simply genius. The industry has lost one of the greats.

Alicia Marantz Liotta, Founder, Beauty Bus Foundation, former MODERN editor: A bright shining light has gone out with the passing of Vidal Sassoon. I have never met a human being with more class, integrity and humility. He selflessly shared his gift with so many. Having the opportunity to interview him, shoot him for the cover of MODERN and tell his story is one of the highest points of my career. I will never forget his words, 'Nobody I know has lived a life of perfect charm. You can't learn anything if everything is good all the time.' His words live in my soul as a constant reminder to put life into perspective and live life to the fullest as he did. His life and legacy will continue to be a daily inspiration. Vidal made an indelible mark on my life as he did for so many others.

Frank Gironda, President, Cosmetologists Chicago: It is with deep emotion that Cosmetologists Chicago mourns the death of Vidal Sassoon. He always said how much he loved Chicago when he came here for appearances at America’s Beauty Show, including the salon industry premiere of the documentary of his life just last year. Vidal Sassoon enabled salon professionals to achieve their aspirations and dreams by changing the way salons do business. Our entire industry is grateful for his creative leadership.

Nicholas French, Matrix Artist: At this moment it is difficult to put words to paper. I met Vidal and worked with him in 1966. He lit my creative fire and gave me passion to make me proud to be a hairdresser. There will never be another Vidal. He was the greatest Ambassador we ever had. He made the world realize that we are not just hairdressers but artists. I believe we are recognized as fine artists because of one man's dedication, commitment, courage, creativity, passion and fearlessness and this was Vidal Sassoon who gave us wings to fly and to believe.

Helen Oppenheim, US Correspondent for Peluquerias magazine: Vidal Sassoon was God to me when I went to work for him as PR and Creative Director for his U.S. and Canadian Salons from 1979 to 1981. I had followed his earth-shattering career in the hair world from the beginning, and I was so steeped in it, that no other hair ideas meant anything to me at the time... I’m sure he is telling the angels to shake their heads up there…may he rest in peace.

Vivienne Mackinder: The passing of Vidal is a great loss to me personally and to our industry. We all know he transformed our business creatively and reshaped our business model. But what is more important to me, as I reflect back on my time with Vidal, is the greatness of the man. His humility, his compassion, his endless support and encouragement. He will continue to be a great mentor to me, inspiring me to be the best I can be. I have so many magic memores of my time with Vidal. A sweet memory I have of him is when I took contact sheets of a book I was working on to show to him. As I sat in his plush LA office, nervously waiting his response, he looked at my work very quietly while I anxiously waited to see if he liked the forward of my book.  If he liked what he saw, he would participate. If he didn’t I would be leaving empty handed. I remember him looking up and smiling and saying “darling, this is beautiful. It would be an honor to be part of your book.”  I would not be the hairdresser I am today if it was not for Vidal.

Alison Shipley, Executive Editor of Social Media & Video, MODERN SALON Media: The first hairdresser I knew by name was Vidal Sassoon. Not only did he revolutionize the hairdressing industry, he took the fashion world by storm. Thank you, Vidal, for your incredible contribution to the professional beauty industry. Your legacy will live on through all those you touched through education and inspiration. My thoughts are with the Sassoon family.

Robert Cromeans, Global Artistic Director of John Paul Mitchell Systems: He defined an industry and even changed how we thought about ourselves. I often say it’s not about being remembered, it's about never being forgotten. On behalf of the beauty industry worldwide, you, my friend, will NEVER be forgotten.

Don Bewley, Eufora: I had only been in the hair industry for a little over a year. I saved my tips and went to a hair show in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I first saw Vidal Sassoon. He walked on stage wearing a YSL suit; he had such sophistication and class and it captivated me. The shapes he cut inspired me and changed my life. Up until that point in my career, I mostly saw just roller sets at these shows. I knew this was the direction I wanted to take. I went back home and found a teacher who could show me all the shapes I saw Vidal cut and I never looked backed. Almost 20 years later I had one of the greatest nights of my life I was at the Long Beach hair show and seated in between two of the greatest stylists in the industry. I had Horst from Aveda seated on my left and Vidal on my right. I will never forget that moment. Several years later, I traveled to San Francisco for another show and saw Vidal. He asked me if we were teaching the Sassoon system at Eufora and I proudly said yes. Vidal told me I should call it the Eufora System and I said no because he was the one who created it. I am so happy I did not change the name; we teach it the exact way he did. Vidal changed the hair industry like The Beatles changed the music world. In honor of Vidal please cut some great shapes and enjoy this great art that is like no other in the world. RIP my friend.

Tabatha Coffey, hair stylist, host of Tabatha Takes Over: Vidal Sassoon was my role model inspiration and mentor. It is the end of an era for hairdressers around the world. There is no one else like him.

Michael Gordon, creator of Vidal Sassoon The Movie, founder of Bumble and bumble: Great men do great things and he did a tremendous amount of great things for the hairdressing world. He will always be an inspiration in many ways.

Pierre Alexandre: Vidal was an inspiration to millions of hairdressers around the world—and I’m proud to say I was one of them. The first and only time we met was in 1971, after he’d invited me to the opening party of his new salon in King Street, Manchester—along with two models featured in an article about my new bob cuts in the Manchester Evening News. Always generous and ever the professional, Vidal congratulated me on my two cuts, which meant a lot. From then on, he inspired me to go on to greater things and helped to give me the courage I needed to achieve some truly special moments during my life and career. I will miss him, and wish his family my heartfelt condolences and long life. Now in an even better place, Vidal has left a lasting impression on the hairdressing industry, and in the hearts of all who knew him.

Angus Mitchell, Co-Owner of John Paul Mitchell Systems: Vidal was a lifelong inspiration, mentor and friend. Vidal was not only instrumental in revolutionizing and commercializing hair in the West but he kept hair as an art form intact. I am proud to say that Vidal watched and coached my father and myself master the art of hair with grace, generosity and touch of genius.The world has lost a great man and visionary. My thoughts and prayers are with the Sassoon family.

Reuben Carranza, CEO, P&G North America Salon Professional: Vidal Sassoon transformed the salon industry with his creativity and his vision of what hair fashion could be. He was an inspiration to generations of stylists and his example encouraged all of us to strive for excellence in the craft, with passion and precision. We will miss him sorely. Our deepest condolences to his family and to his legion of friends.

Sally Hershberger, celebrity stylist: Vidal was a true pioneer in this industry. Through his incredible vision, he elevated hairdressing to the art form that it is today. He lived a fascinating life and was a true gentleman.

Christopher and Sonya Dove: As far as an icon, who each one of us hairdressers can and always will look up to as a pioneer that changed the direction of hair cutting, Vidal Sassoon will always be known as our Founding Father. His passion for architecture was the inspiration for creating his techniques and those teachings have been influencers in every country around the world. I don't think a single hairdresser can or ever will be able to say he or she influenced so many in their lifetime. Vidal, you will be missed by all you touched.

Stacey Soble, Editor in Chief of SALON TODAY: Last February, we had access to a handful of extra tickets to the West Coast premiere of Vidal Sassoon: The Movie, and Vidal himself requested that we use them to invite working professionals. I was able to reach out to a few California-based SALON TODAY 200 honorees and other salon owners who have proven to be great inspirational sources for SALON TODAY and personally invite them to the event. I felt like Willy Wonka with a handful of golden tickets. It was a great gift to be able to pass on, and it was magical night with Vidal with some of my favorite readers.

Damien Carney, Joico International Artistic Director: He revolutionized hair as we know it. He has had such an impact on a technical and an artistic level, and he was such a genius—he was why I started hairdressing. Every salon throughout the world uses some form of the Vidal Sassoon methodology and it’s up to us to maintain those high standards and live up to those expectations. May he rest in peace.
George Papanikolas, Joico Celebrity Colorist and stylist: A true visionary, it is a tremendous loss for stylists and the industry as a whole. He's one of those icons that elevated our industry from a craft to an art form.

Irvine Rusk: Vidal Sassoon's passing is a great loss to our world. He was without a doubt one of the century's most influential style makers and a true prince among men. Rest in peace my friend.

Jan Laan, VP International Business Development, Pivot Point: Vidal Sassoon brought hair to the forefront, and into the minds, of almost every consumer. That is how he changed our profession forever. When I was still in beauty school it was the manager of the local clothes store in the village where I grew up who told me about Vidal Sassoon. At the time I had not heard of him yet, but he had, and that was very telling of what Sassoon had achieved.

Oribe: I am very sad to hear about the passing of Vidal Sassoon. I did not know him personally, but he has always been a great influence in my work and in the work of all hairdressers. He will always be remembered as a legend and as the greatest hairdresser in the world.

Charles Penzone, The Charles Penzone Family of Salons: I met Vidal in 2007 at the International Salon/Spa Business Network annual event, when I was the presenter of the Legend Award he received. He had been my icon since 1966, when I first saw him perform on stage in Chicago, during his first American tour. He not only inspired me, he changed my life and how I looked at the beauty industry thereafter. I returned from Chicago to central Ohio and introduced "Sassooning." Meeting him 42 years later, and being able to say, "Thank you," over dinner was one of the highlights of my career. He was so gracious and charming, it overwhelmed me and exceeded my expectations. I owe all I have to him.

Adil Mehboob-Khan, President, Wella - The Professional Division of P&G: Vidal Sassoon’s creative genius, pioneering entrepreneurship and work ethos defined excellence for generations of hairdressers and clients. His teachings, both behind the chair and in life, will last forever. In our times, there has been no one like him.

Beth Minardi: The brightest light in the world of beauty has just gone out! I am deeply saddened at our collective loss. The light and the genius of Vidal Sassoon. He changed this "game" for all of us. He set new standards and changed the world's way of viewing what we do for a living.... and he changed all of us—for the better. His gorgeous work and innovative thinking live on. May God bless him as he inspires everyone in heaven.... he's probably doing a hair cut, and exclaming it "marvelous" right now. I send my deepest sympathy to Ronnie,  to his family...... and to all of us.  We were so lucky to have had him.

Sam Villa, Redken Education Artistic Director: It is a sad time in our industry as we have lost an icon who inspired so many hairdressers to be who we are today. In one way or another, we have all been touched by Vidal Sassoon. I remember my father taking me to see Vidal Sassoon, Christopher Brooker and Roger Thompson in 1976, my very first hair show in San Francisco. That was when I decided to become a teacher, thank you Vidal. Vidal’s everlasting influence and philosophy on this industry will be truly remembered. The industry is where it is today because we have broken the rules to get where we are today. Vidal Sassoon was the first to break the rules as he revolutionized the industry with a pair of scissors breaking away from traditional setting. Your courage, discipline and  inspiration will truly be missed Vidal, yet forever remembered, rest in peace.

Laara K. Raynier, Mastercutter Academy: I always loved the energy in Vidal Sassoon's salons—the stylists, the assistants, the clients, all buzzing around, with the anticipation of a new look, a great hair cut, one that you'll love more than any other. The connection between stylist and client, the trust, the closeness the intimacy, Vidal Sassoon created this way of doing hair, this lifestyle that we all practice, we owe to him and the brilliant hairdressers who worked by his side to create this magic.

Jacki Wadeson, producer of Vidal Sassoon The Movie: Vidal, you changed the world of hairdressing and left a legacy that will live forever. Rest in peace.

Laurel Nelson, former Editor in Chief of MODERN SALON Media: I had the pleasure of meeting Vidal Sassoon on several occasions. Whether he was giving a speech in front of a thousand hairdressers or doing an interview for MODERN SALON, he was always an eloquent, charming speaker who held his audience in the palm of his hand. He was a hard worker and risk taker who lived a life full of passion and curiosity. His legacy will live on in stylists today and forever.

Julien Farel: We have lost a great icon in our business. Vidal was a true innovator of beauty and style.

G Michael Salon: Today, The Beauty Industry lost it's greatest Revolutionary. Vidal Sassoon passed away this morning at 10:30 am in his Los Angeles home at 84-years-old. We at in Noblesville, Indiana, are truly saddened by this loss and are remembering his tribute to our world fondly here today. Owner Greg Lee has been trained, and continues to train, his Artistic Design Team with Advanced Sassoon cutting techniques. Consequently, Vidal Sassoon's name is uttered here daily, and with the utmost respect. He was an adored icon of the industry, but also a father, a husband, and an admired philanthropist and his absence will be surely evident.

Angus Mitchell Salon, Beverly Hills: Thank you Vidal for the many years of love, support and generosity. A true inspiration that will be sorely missed and forever remembered.

Chrystofer Benson, Matrix Artistic Director: Vidal Sassoon was the hair industry icon and game changer. We will never look or think about hair or ourselves the same way. Sassoon: a name with a standard many tried to achieve—a legacy we all will follow!

Sam Brocato: Vidal, your work has inspired my life. In 1974 I heard you speak in your London school on Davies Mews. One word you used has echoed through the years for me: excellence. I honor your life of excellence. God bless you in perpetuity.

Steve Goddard, president and founder, Pravana: Vidal Sassoon was to hairdressing what The Beatles were to music. We all waited to see what he would do next and then use his new creations as a source of inspiration. He will be greatly missed.

David Babaii, celebrity stylist: I found out the news while I was just at Planet Salon in LA getting my hair cut by Casey Voelker, a former master stylist at Vidal Sassson. As I sat down, he had a somber face and told me the news. I am completely caught off guard. I learned, like Casey, from Vidal and I am devestated. This is a huge loss for the hair industry. We are left without a mentor but his foundation and inspiration will remain in all of our hair cuts.

Richard Dalton, former hairdresser to Princess Diana: Such a sad day for the hairdressing world. This man aas such an inspiration. I was accepted into The Vidal Sassoon School London in the late '60s, on merit—the first time that ever happened. I learned so much, and changed my life, such a loss to our world.

 "Hair is nature's biggest compliment. And the treatment of this compliment is in our hands. As in haute couture, the cut is the most important element in deciding line. Hair cutting simply means: Design. And this feeling for design must come from within."- Vidal Sassoon

Jack Panico, Owner & CEO, Panico Salon & Spa: My thoughts go out to the Sassoon family. Vidal was not only a wonderful man, but an industry icon. He revolutionized the industry forever touching and changing the lives of his family, friends, clients, stylists and artists all over the world. As my heart is heavy, all I can say is thank you for all that you have given us and the legacy that Elan continues to carry on.

John Harms, Founder & CEO Millennium Software: Vidal Sassoon lived the dream of every entrepreneur. He revolutionized an industry he loved, created styles and products that nobody had dreamed of, and as an industry icon encouraged philanthropy even into his last days. His name and legacy will continue to be heard and felt for generations to come.

Winn Claybaugh: I could write a novel on the ways Vidal Sassoon inspired, mentored, and helped me fall in love with the most amazing industry on the planet. I am honored to have met and supported him in several philanthropic projects. While many will remember Vidal for his revolutionary way of cutting hair, I will honor him by becoming the type of person he was: I will have compassion. I will be available and approachable to mentor new talent in the beauty industry. And I will use my power and influence for good.

David Maderich, make-up artist, As a kid from the Midwest, Vidal Sassoon was the first celebrity hairdresser I saw on television. His message was always one of being positive and being the best you could be. The first thing I did when I moved to New York City was to get my hair cut at a Sassoon salon—and it was the best hair cut I ever received.

Paul DiGrigoli: Boy, what a great role model he was. I had the opportunity to meet him in Atlanta Georgia at a conference in 1994. I also attended his Vidal Sassoon Academy in Santa Monica, California, for a week and it was one of the greatest experiences I ever had as far as cutting and coloring. Each new starting class at my school, I share with them Vidal Sassoon: The Movie, how one man changed the world with a pair of scissors.

Andre Chiavelli, Executive Vice President of Sales & Corporate Strategy, Emiliani Enterprises: On behalf of the entire beauty industry, Emiliani Enterprises and all hairdressers in the world, we are deeply saddened by the passing of the great Vidal Sassoon, he has done so  much for all of us in building and pioneering this great industry we can never thanks him enough for all of his greatness.

Doreen Guarneri, co-founder, American Culture: I'm so sad to hear of this great loss. Vidal changed the entire industry. He set the bar for sophistication and class in hairdressing and shared with the world that hairdressing is an art form. He did this with unrivaled passion and unconditional dedication to the craft. He will be missed.

Brig Van Osten, owner, P!ay Hair Lounge: My heart broke today. Thank you for ALL that your generously gave our industry in all your years with us. Your inspiration will remain strong with me.

Steve Elias, NAHA Texture winner, editorial stylist: Vidal is my foundation as a stylist—what I have learned under his system has help me build my career. I don't think I can measure what impact he has had on me. I am truly saddened by his loss but at the same time overjoyed someone like him excited in my lifetime.

Larry Kane, Takara Belmont: I had the pleasure of meeting Vidal Sassoon at the ISBN Conference in 2006 at Amelia Island. I was so impressed with how much he loved the industry. We have seven stylists in my immediate family, my mom, two brothers, niece, nephew and sister in law; we have all been influenced in one way or another with the contributions Vidal made to this wonderful industry.

Karie Bennett, Aveda Master Stylist and Salon Today contributor: Without Vidal Sassoon, you'd be sitting under a dryer with rollers in your hair. The hair cut you blow dry yourself at home was of his invention. We owe so much to Vidal Sassoon. Stacey Soble and Salon Today, thank you for giving me the chance to meet and interview him last year at the premiere of his film. It remains a highlight in my life. He was my first hair hero, and he left a mark on our industry. XO Vidal.

Stephen Marinaro, The Salon Guy: My prayers and heart goes out to his family and may he rest in peace. Vidal was an inspiration, icon and master of his craft and has touched millions of lives, including mine. I will always remember his good looks, charm and amazing ability to deliver information to people. He will always have a place in my heart.

"I often say to myself, 'God I wish I had a second original idea.' I would love to see some young person with an enormous energy create something new, create something different. And when everybody tells you - the doubters tell you - it can't be done, you'll grow broke or all kinds of tragedies will come your way: Nonsense. If you can get to the root of who you are, the gut of who you are, and make something happen from it - in whatever field - my sense is you're going to surprise yourself."- Vidal Sassoon via Vidal Sassoon The Movie

Read the Special Tribute in
MODERN's July 2012 Tribute Edition.

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