William Collier: Synopsis of a Memoir, pt. 14 - Departure

November 12, 2015

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After a mon60s bouffant styleth or so I began to settle into a routine, which was easy. Too easy. The clients I was seeing, for the most part, had been clients of the House of Edward salon for years. Their expectation was a duplication of a style they had been wearing. At this point my handicapping ability had improved allowing a better sense of clients’ interest in change. My experience with Dorothy Bullitt was not ordinary; I found that a reasonable facsimile was “good enough”, generally speaking. Not everyone was open to change. As clients gravitated to my personal style and I was busier with repeat clients every week for a shampoo and set, an image of the future began to appear. This image was a bit annoying, since I was quite new in the hair industry my point of reference was determined by the other “beauty operators” who seemed content with the status quo. Something was missing... the image that was prematurely developing in my mind was about to take a huge departure.

Through resources outside of the salon, that were applying progressive techniques being usheredThe Olympic Hotel into the industry by designers who would go on to become “industry icons”, I kept informed. These connections shared information that Vidal Sassoon was going to be presenting a new collection at what was then the Olympic Hotel. I immediately made arrangements to attend. His presentation was a few weeks away. During this time it was just business as usual. I did inquire with the other employees about their interest in the upcoming presentation and there seemed to be an element of fear in their response. Fear of change, a condition that plagues our industry to this day; one that creates a paralysis that removes the energy and supports the status quo. At this juncture I could only gravitate to the energetic pull of real change.

As I have matured in the industry, I understand the challenge of responding to change for “the sake of change”. Real change is phenomenal and happens infrequently. The industrial revolution had a monumental impact worldwide; the first industrial revolution began in the late 1700’s in Great Britain. A revolution in the hair industry that so distinctly created a departure from hair being attended to weekly (or longer), and products being used to support this gravitational futility also began in Great Britain. Vidal SassoonIn the early 1960’s Vidal Sassoon was arguably the man behind the revolution; a distinct exodus from hair as an exclamation point to a question mark, using punctuation as an analogy. His timing was phenomenal; investing in the futility of a “hairdo” that was doomed to fail in the gravitational battle and end its weekly course in near disaster was loosing its appeal. The idea of having a hairstyle be the result of a carefully applied cutting technique as a compliment to a face shape, inviting gentle shampoo and conditioner to further enhance the freedom of movement while complimenting lifestyle changes was overwhelmingly desirable. Young women were anxious to find their departure vehicle. As the proverbial “line in the sand” became more obvious, change was in the wind. The idea of allowing the vitality of hair connected to one’s head the opportunity to behave as a natural esthetic statement with less being more regarding products, was the beginning of a distinct change in women’s and men’s hairstyles and remains visibly dominant today. My first actual contact with Sassoon changed the course of my career. I hold his influence with gratitude and honor as do hundreds, or more likely thousands, counting those that are not even aware of Vidal’s enormous contribution to the hair industry.


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