Vidal Sassoon and Mary Quant: Icons of 1960’s Fashion

When you think of 1960’s fashion, there are a wave of inspirational icons, music and fashions which come to mind.  From the Teddy Boy scene, to the hippie movement, to the Jackie O’ Style, the transition in the fashion world from the 1950’s to 1960’s was truly one of the most rapid and explosive.  The world slowly began to steer away from the rigid, neutral tones of the Post war era in the 1950’s, and it’s focus on family and fundamentals.  Besides a “wandering waistline” fashion of the 50’s stayed relatively tame, paying some homage to styles of the 1920’s.  But as the 1960’s started to approach, a new wave of influences made the fashion scene erupt in a series of bold new colors, shapes, and fabrics.  The fashions of the swingin’ sixties, had been born, and with it, some of the most influential style icons of all time. Among those individuals, was Vidal Sassoon himself, who worked closely with the infamous fashion designer Mary Quant, who is credited with starting the fashion movement know as the Carnaby Street scene, and for popularizing the iconic “mini skirt of the 1960’s, which has appeared in the fashion world in nearly every generation since.  Sassoon and Quant’s work together changed the face of the Carnaby fashion scene, and the hairdressing industry in a way that still resonates today.

Vidal Sassoon and Mary Quant


Vidal Sassoon’s Contributions:

Before Quant and Sassoon’s creative scheming, the lovely First Lady Jackie Kennedy influenced a generation with one of the most recognized hairstyles fo the 1960’s, the back combed, beehived, bouffant do.  To achieve the sought after style, took real time and dedication.  Hours of work and upkeep, the bouffant demanded large rollers, time under a dryer, tedious backcombing, and can upon can of hairspray.  But Qaunt’s search for the perfect “top” to her ensemble, lead her to Sassoon, and hair was never the same again. When remembered in his obituaries after his death in 2012, Quant Stated:

“He liberated women from the punishment of hours spent under the bonnet of a hairdryer, with fat rollers digging into their scalps. We found the freedom to swim in the sea, drive in an open-top car, walk in the rain and then just shake our head to look good again. Your hair did not forget the shape he created and it simply returned to base.”


mary quant
Examples of Mary Quants Carnaby Street Style with Vidal Sassoon Signature Hair Style

Sassoon strict lines, geometric shapes, and precision cutting lent to the free and breakthrough fashions Quant was dedicated to providing. When examining Qunts distinct style, it’s clear no other hairdo would have complimented the unique shapes, and vivid colors like Vidal Sassoon’s iconic cuts.  Like peanut butter and jelly, or wine and chocolates, the two seemed to have been made for each other when it came to creative aesthetic.  Vidal Sassoon’s clean, geometric style flowed perfectly with Quant’s straight geometric prints, and garment shapes.  And it should be no surprise that the perfect accessory to Quants iconic “mini skirts” was a short, edgy hair style.  The freedom of movement as mentioned earlier in Quants remembrance of Sassoon,  also mirrors the identity established in Quants designs. When discussing one of Qaunts regularly used accessory tights, Professor Angela McRobbie from Goldsmiths’ Department of Media and Communications, best explains the goal behind Quants style:

“Like so many of Quant’s best-known works, tights permitted a greater freedom of movement on the part of the young women, who from the early 1960s onwards were looking for a different, more colourful and more independent life than their mothers.”

Vidal Sassoon’s low maintenance precision haircut, coupled with with Quant’s free and versatile fashion design, gave young women of the era a new and exciting freedom when compared to the tight waist, modest designs of the 1950’s and prior.  This freedom lends to the ideal that the 1960’s was one of the most pivotal, and influential fashion era’s of all time. Together, Mary Quant and Vidal Sassoon have become synonymous with fashion of the 1960’s.  Her free thinking , out of the box designs gave women’s fashion a new approach, making women feel more confident and independent than ever before. And and his disciplined, precision hair cutting changed the definition of style and has continued to influence generations after.  While we certainly have our fair share of celebrity stylists to choose from today,  it can be argued that none have affected fashion and culture in the way Vidal Sassoon did in the 1960’s, though the possiblity is out there.

Fashion by Mary Quant

What do you think? Are there any celebrity stylist’s who you think have the potential to change the face of fashion? Or someone you think may have already left an impact?  Let us know in the comments below!

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