If the filamentous wisps of lifeless hair upon your head are lucky enough to see shampoo once a month, a pair of scissors once every four years and a tin of hairspray once, a very long time ago, when you were in a school play, well, this film may pass you by. However, those of you interested in the documented lives of fashionista royalty may find this portrayal of Sassoon’s rise from orphan boy to international hairdressing sensation, at least a little intriguing.
Having grown up in a Jewish orphanage, in London, Sassoon recalls the tough times, the successful times and a time he once got so angry that he threw his scissors into the air and they stuck in the ceiling – this being the only glimpse into an unrepresented side of his personality.
As a teenager too young to join the Second World War, Sassoon fought against anti-Semitism by joining the ‘43 Group’, an organisation set up by Jewish ex-servicemen, which attempted to break up Fascist meetings in London. He later went on to join the Israeli Defense Forces and fought in the Arab-Israeli war in 1948. From here Sassoon returned to London to change the way women styled their hair forever by way of geometry.
Together with Mary Quant’s mini skirt, Sassoon ‘put the top’ on the Swinging Sixty’s radical image. With a right-angle here and there the short and angular haircuts created a new and welcomed ‘wash and ready’ style. This helped rid women of the salon ritual which took time and effort to keep their barnets in working order. Whilst of course this will have created a breath of fresh air for women the world over, the attempt of director Craig Teper to prove his over-eager tag line that Sassoon ‘changed the world’ seems somewhat beseeched.
Don’t head to the cinema expecting the usual foul mood of well-groomed egotists: this film was made by friends with little intention of digging deep into the dark depths of Sassoon’s psychology. Evidently it began as a birthday tribute which grew some, but not quite enough, potential as a feature length film. The documentary features interviews with close friends and colleagues such as Mary Quant, Michael Gordon and William Claxton who all add to the endearing portrayal of Sassoon’s rags to riches tale. Yet it seems to dawdle on the border of long-winded advertising with its constant stream of praise. Sassoon certainly deserves praise for the way he liberated women from their former hair routines but it wanes in comparison to the gritty detachment of The September Issue.