English hairdresser Vidal Sassoon (1928–) established the first of what would become a successful chain of hair salons on London's Bond Street in 1954. Over the next few years he gained a reputation for creating daring but flattering looks for a stylish clientele. His work began appearing in the top fashion magazines of the day. In the early 1960s, however, women's hairstyles were elaborate, stiffened sculptures. They required setting lotion, rollers, dryer time, backcombing, and a generous amount of hair spray. Sassoon railed against such styles as out of step with the modern woman's lifestyle. In 1963 actress Nancy Kwan (1939–) was brought to Sassoon's salon during the shooting of a film called The Wild Affair (1963). Kwan had very long hair, and filmmakers wanted it cut. Sassoon created an uneven, layered cut inspired, he said, by architecture. The finished effect was so dramatic that he called a fashion photographer immediately, and Kwan's profile was shot that same day for the British and American editions of Vogue magazine. A year later Sassoon gave model Grace Coddington (c. 1923–) his Five Point Cut on the night before she appeared in designer Mary Quant's (1934–) fashion show. Sassoon's Five Point Cut featured five inverted "V"s designed to highlight a woman's eyes, cheekbones, and neck.
The short, modern haircuts, which swung when their bearers danced, belonged to the same spirit as Quant's miniskirts. Originating in London with the mod style and with new rock groups like the Beatles, whose famous mop-top hair Sassoon also cut, this new focus on youthful playfulness rejected many of the conventions of the sedate 1950s: women's clothes were designed to accentuate a slim, boyish shape, and Sassoon's almost genderless hairstyle needed a minimum of styling and upkeep. He opened a New York City salon in 1965, followed by others in California.
Montgomery, Christine. "Sassoon Style." Washington Times (October 16, 1997): 10.
"Sassoon and His Scissors." Life (July 9, 1965): 67–68.
Sassoon, Vidal. "Forever Cutting Edge." Vogue (April 2002): 90.