"IF YOU DON'T LOOK good, we don't look good." So goes the famous slogan for Vidal Sassoon and his eponymous line of hair products, familiar to anyone with access to television during the 1980s. The man behind those products and signature geometric hairstyles—worn most iconically by Nancy Kwan and Mia Farrow—is the subject of Craig Teper's documentary Vidal Sassoon: The Movie, a pleasing if fawning profile of arguably the most influential hairstylist of the last century.
Sassoon's is the story of a self-made man, whose early beginnings included stints in an orphanage and the Israel Defense Forces. Bolstered by a lifelong dedication to health and fitness, he rose to prominence as his angular, physics-based approach to haircutting began to catch on. By the time a freshly shorn Farrow entered a scene in Rosemary's Baby by announcing, "I've been to Vidal Sassoon," his name was solidified at household status. At his height, Sassoon and his wife Beverly were not only the faces of a multi-national product line, but lifestyle gurus promoting their philosophies in books and television.
As in every biographical arc, the highs must be answered by lows, and Teper guides us through interviews with Sassoon brooding over his shattering divorce from Beverly, the tragic overdose of his eldest daughter, and the regrettable decision to sell the Vidal Sassoon line.
Though a few personal aspects are a little glossed over, Teper has put together a tidy biographical experience punctuated with plenty of eye candy. Sassoon is still inspirationally vital at 83, doing yoga by his pool and building homes in New Orleans. As a lifestyle model, his vision and methods still hold up, even if the film's grandiose declarations that he changed the face of modern design are a little overblown. After all, why would someone whose raison d'être is looking good consent to be portrayed as anything less than great?