Very few people have the opportunity to be in the presence of greatness; I consider myself one of the lucky few. My wife Rachel and I interviewed Vidal for our documentary One Life Project. The interview was scheduled for an hour, but two hours later we were still chatting away. I was captivated by his mannerisms and the way he used his hands to weave his story — his command of the English language made me hang on every word. I was besotted and it was the beginning of a brief, but meaningful relationship.
We had many things in common: the craft, fashion and soccer. He was an ardent Chelsea fan, while I’m a Glasgow Celtic fan. We ran into him at a Chelsea game on a sunny day and seeing Rachel was without shade he gave her the hat off his head. He was a consummate gentleman. I worked with Vidal on his mission for Habitat for Humanity, had the pleasure of introducing on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in London to receive his Lifetime Achievement Award and walked with him in the French Quarter of New Orleans discussing jazz, art and culture, but all the while pinching myself thinking “I’m walking with Vidal Sassoon!”
The last time I heard Vidal speak, it was on the BBC at Christmas and he was discussing his early years growing up in the East End of London after the war, and it struck me how far that boy had traveled to be the man that would make the industry what it is. If it wasn’t for him so many of us wouldn’t be where we are today. Our thoughts and love go to Ronnie and the Sassoon family.
James and Rachel