Hairstylist, product guru Sassoon dies at 84

“My idea was to cut shape into the hair, to use it like fabric and take away everything that was superfluous,” Vidal Sassoon said in 1993.

LOS ANGELES — Hairstylist Vidal Sassoon, who undid the beehive with his wash-and-wear cuts and went on to become an international name in hair care, died Wednesday. He was 84.

Sassoon died at his home in Los Angeles, police spokesman Kevin Maiberger said. Officers were summoned to the home at about 10:30 a.m., where they found Sassoon dead.

They determined that he died of natural causes, Maiberger said.

When Sassoon picked up his shears in the 1950s, styled hair was typically curled, teased, piled high and shellacked into place. Then came the 1960s, and Sassoon’s creative cuts, which required little styling and fell into place perfectly every time, fitting right in with the fledgling women’s liberation movement. “My idea was to cut shape into the hair, to use it like fabric and take away everything that was superfluous,” Sassoon said in 1993 in the Los Angeles Times, which first reported his death Wednesday. “Women were going back to work, they were assuming their own power. They didn’t have time to sit under the dryer anymore.”

His wash-and-wear styles included the bob, the Five-Point cut and the “Greek Goddess,” a short, tousled perm — inspired by the “Afro-marvelous-looking women” he said he saw in New York’s Harlem.

Sassoon opened his first salon in his native London in 1954 but said he didn’t perfect his cut-is-everything approach until the mid-’60s. Once the wash-and-wear concept hit, many women retired their curlers for good.

Sassoon opened more salons in England and expanded to the United States before also developing a line of shampoos and styling products bearing his name. His advertising slogan was “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.”

He also established Vidal Sassoon Academies to teach aspiring stylists how to envision haircuts based on a client’s bone structure. In 2006 there were academies in England, the United States and Canada, with additional locations planned in Germany and China.

He wrote three books. The first was an autobiography, “Sorry I Kept You Waiting, Madam,” published in 1968. “A Year of Beauty and Health,” which he wrote with his second wife, Beverly, was published in 1979. In 1984 he released “Cutting Hair the Vidal Sassoon Way.”

He sold his business interests in the early 1980s to devote himself to philanthropy.