This movie main purpose seems to be convincing the viewer that Vidal Sassoon is the biggest genius that has ever entered the fashion world (or even the world in general, which the opening credit’s comparison to Albert Einstein indicates). Undoubtedly the man has done a fair bit when it comes to introducing modern hair styles, but there is something about this kind of documentaries the totally rubs me the wrong way. It’s basically 90 minutes of talking heads praising his genius and very little footage of himself actually doing things. Though Vidal himself comes off as a likable figure with a striking presence, looking very spry and stylish for a 83 year old.
There is also a very touching story pottering underneath, he had an addicted mother and absent father, grew up partly in an orphanage and dropped out of school at an early age. With wit, a good bit of street smartness and hard work he managed to create not just iconic hair styles, but also a strong brand of saloons and hair products, some of which are still running today. You could say that his business model set the template for brands like Fredric Fekkai and such.
So obviously there are plenty of interesting story lines in this movie, but I keep wishing for a more engaging format. Though there are some gems certainly, such as his tough childhood which gives clues on his drive and ambition and I love the insane clips from his talk show days and rigorous work-out regime – he was into things like pilates and yoga long before it became trendy. There is also a touching sequence about the divorce from his second wife Beverly which he had three children with, one of which died of an suspected overdose ten years ago. So can I recommend this documentary? Well I would say maybe, if you like me are a total fashion history nerd, but there are plenty of other fashion documentaries that far excel this one.