Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Hair and handbags

I have a little piece in the Guardian today about the rocketing price of handbags:

As designer fakes proliferate, handbag makers have aggressively put up their prices. One day last year at the stroke of noon, Chanel put up the prices of all its bags by 20%. The purchase of bags far beyond the income of the average woman has become a frenzy running parallel with the rise of Primark, for there is no fashion for cheap, disposable bags. Instead, there are vastly expensive disposable bags. Twenty-year-olds on £14,000 a year are going into credit card debt to buy £1,000 bags they have seen on the arm of Victoria Beckham or Keira Knightley, who did not, of course, pay for them. These bags will be hopelessly out of date by the end of the season.
Read on, there's a bit more.

But there's also a longer, more fascinating piece about the unsung stars of fashion, the hairdressers, and why London is the world epicentre of the profession:

By the dawn of the 60s, however, hairdressing was still essentially perms and waves, Marcels and bouffants, and layers and layers of lacquer - anything, in fact, to disguise the poverty of the cut. Then along came a young man born in 1928 in Shepherd's Bush, the son of a carpet dealer from Thessaloniki and a mother of Russian Jewish descent. After an apprenticeship in Cohen's Beauty and Barber shop in east London and a spell in the Israeli army, Vidal Sassoon became Bessone's assistant before opening his own salon in Bond Street, and changing hairdressing as profoundly as Henry Ford changed carmaking.

"It's impossible to overestimate Sassoon's importance," says Cox. "His impulse was genuinely philosophical and aesthetic, it was a real intellectual step - architecture for the head. Sassoon brought everything back to technique: to cutting, not styling, to form following function. There was no more need for blowdrying or setting or spraying, he produced precision geometric cuts that fitted people's faces. He did the asymmetric bob, Mary Quant's five-point cut, Mia Farrow's urchin look for Rosemary's Baby. He helped make the 60s, for sure, but his influence extends far, far beyond that."

Equally importantly, Sassoon saw that good haircuts demanded properly trained hairdressers. He set up a network of academies that, with their emulators - invariably founded by disciples of the great man - are, in Cox's eyes, the real reason why British hairdressing now rules the world. "This is the Harvard of hair. People come from literally everywhere to train here, from a short course costing a few hundred pounds to a masters course with the international creative director. You have to think of that as like going to an atelier in Paris with John Galliano, except, of course, that there's no such thing."


Toby Wollin said...

The whole handbag thing is totally outside the realm of my comprehension, especially since it is known that so many of these "luxury" bags are being made in China or by Chinese labor in Italy. Tulipomania, indeed. And there is nothing..absolutely nothing..that chirks me up like a visit to the hairdresser. The good ones (and they are not always expensive) are just geniuses at making you feel well as look good and I am proud to say that my younger daughter, who just finished a BA last year in Literature and Women's Studies is also finishing up her hairdresser course at Aveda in New York and is looking forward to going to London and starting out so that she can also study with a place like Sassoon. My parents, if they were still alive, would be aghast that she is using her BA in this way, but at least she will not end up sitting in an office here in front of a computer flogging spreadsheets.

DaveHill said...

Heating, petrol, food and now handbags! Where will it end?