Vidal’s ‘Chimera’

Back to the 80’s with cut color: hair fashion firm Sasoon shows five new looks at a style convention on Schwarzenbergplatz

On The Town | Michelle Falkenbach | October 2008

European coloring director at Sasoon, Peter Dawson (left), prepares his team (Photo: Doris Neulinger)

There were twelve of us, chosen out of fifty, to represent Sassoon Professional Hair Salon’s new fall/winter collection "Chimera" – a wild and fanciful creation, named for the mythological beast who guarded the gates of hell – by international creative director Mark Hayes and co.

During a day-long stay with the Sassoon hair team, I was granted a look at the world behind the scenes and met European Color Director Peter Dawson, who designed the collection’s scheme for this season.

Every collection is a result of months spent working and planning.

"We drew our inspiration from Serge Lutens, the renowned 80’s photographer, designer, and creator of Maverick trademark looks, as well as fashion greats Alexander McQueen and Thierry Mugler," Dawson said. The result is "cuts and colors that are sharp, changeable [and revolve around] the strength of an extraordinary haircut, and how one can create a basis for a look."  The style team had four hairdos and three models for each. Not every cut fits every woman, so an extensive sorting process is needed to find the right faces, hair quality, and color for each cut.

I was to be their "Lenea" – a dark brown base color with a mesh of earthy red thrown in.  The cut itself is short, edgy, intricate, all over the place, yet still very wearable; short in the back with bangs pulled across my forehead.  Here concept is everything and the motto for this collection: "flexible, changeable, but always wearable." My cut Dawson described as "dark, beautiful, desirable, and tonal, with close combinations and a fine balance between cut and color."

For Sassoon, hair is the stuff of design. ("We treat hair as material – like a tailor would cloth," Dawson said)

It can be intimidating to walk into a hair studio; however you walk in, you know you will come out very changed. I came in with long brown hair and was told that I was to have a bob. Would this look good on my long, thin face? Niccola was an expert, I was assured, who "can work[s] with face, shape and bone structure as well as the combination of cut and color to create the perfect look." I suddenly wished I had not taken part. "It’s a synergy of the two," Dawson promised. Suspicion lined my face.

Next thing I knew, my hair lay on the floor in front of me… yet as my eyes drifted up to the mirror, watching my "Lenea" look being born out of Dawson’s color expertise and Niccola’s sure hand with the scissors, I relaxed.  She cut to perfection; everything to the last millimeter was calculated and accounted for, and placed exactly where she wanted it. It was the hair cut that had been waiting for me. With Dawson’s addition of lustrous tones, the image was complete.

I could now see my neck, free and bare, long and (dare I say it?) beautiful; my hair, darker than before, with elements of red visible only under a certain light, and a new refreshing cut that was incised to perfection.

Sassoon, a British company, plans to open a salon in Düsseldorf, Germany in spring ‘09 and expand further into Austria and Switzerland soon thereafter, Dawson told me. The hair show that was intended to inform Vienna about the new Sassoon hair styles and colors did so with much success. And I, I left the show with a new "look", one that was filled with expression and style.

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