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c. 1964

Vidal Sassoon cutting Mary Quant’s hair

Two icons of the Swinging Sixties.

What you see here, ladies and gentlemen, is not one but two icons of the Swinging Sixties. On Tuesday, November 10, 1964, united by a common haircut, are Mary Quant and Vidal Sassoon.

The recipient of said cut is 34-year-old fashion designer Mary Quant. Quant is widely attributed with inventing hot-pants at the end of the 1960s and, at the beginning of the decade, one of the most famous garments of all time: the miniskirt.

Whether Mary actually did invent the miniskirt is a matter of much (and heated) conjecture. Quant herself sidestepped the question: “It was the girls on the King’s Road who invented the mini,” she said, referring to the young women she saw on London’s King’s Road which was then — and still is — an epicenter of style.

In any case, the popularity of the miniskirt was undeniable. In 1963, it won Quant a Dress of the Year award. And King’s Road women were certainly a major influence on her liberating designs — she said she wanted them to be able to run for the bus.

Mary had opened her first shop, Bazaar, on King’s Road in 1955, above a basement restaurant owned by her husband, Alexander Plunkett Greene. They were together and married for almost 40 years until his death in 1990.

Vidal and Mary were Londoners, but unlike Mary, Vidal’s childhood was one of extreme poverty.

“My scissors lifted me out of Petticoat Lane in the East End of London and took me all over the world.”
–Vidal Sassoon

Seven of the first years of his life were spent in an orphanage. He left school at 14, and his mother suggested he try to get a hairdressing apprenticeship. 

When Sassoon died in 2012, Mary Quant described the first time she met him: “The sign on the window said ‘Vidal Sassoon’ and I discovered the man himself upstairs in an attic, reached by a ramshackle lift that could carry only one person or, more suitably, food. It was a tiny room, but up there he ruled, cutting hair and performing, rather like a four-star chef.”

The remarkable thing about Sassoon’s approach was that he regarded the hair he cut as architecture. He was especially influenced by the geometric lines of the Bauhaus period, and directly channeled those angular and geometric lines into his scissors.

The asymmetrical Bob was his signature look, and he is shown here in 1964 providing Mary Quant with her Bob. This Bob is now as closely associated with Quant as Sassoon. In the words of Peggy Moffatt, another one of his models: “Sassoon was to hair care what Picasso is to painting.”

Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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