Everyone has heard of Vidal Sassoon. Some of us might still remember the, “We don’t look good, if you don’t look good,” TV commercials of the 70s and 80s.” That iconic phrase forever branded Vidal Sassoon as one of the most visionary and authoritative names in hair care and styling. But though most savvy Angelenos know our city has its own Vidal Sassoon salon in Beverly Hills, few are aware of its best-kept secret – its model program.
When my nanny told me she was a model for an aspiring Vidal Sassoon stylist, it made sense. She was a slender 24-year-old blond, spray-tanned club girl who I never saw wear the same mini dress twice. Never did I imagine that I– a 40-something mom who lives in cargo shorts and spends less than four minutes a day on makeup — could also be a model.
I never had to strut down a catwalk, but I did have to agree to allow Vidal Sassoon Academy students to refine their craft on my tresses. Soon I was sitting pretty as a model at Vidal Sassoon salon in Beverly Hills, getting highlights from Amel, a colorist trainee, and Hayley, a stylist trainee.
For their services I paid a nominal fee, equivalent to the price of a trim at a walk-in chop shop or the cost of hair products. The sessions were supervised by instructors, and both Amel and Hayley were star students, so I never worried I would end up with some dreaded cut or awful color. The result in fact was my finest cut and color ever, along with the exquisite experience of the Vidal Sassoon salon itself.
Besides the cost savings, being a model gave me the opportunity to try out the salon, which I might have been too intimidated to do without my entree as a model. From the moment I walked in the high-end and modern salon, I was relieved to find the staff not stiff but exceedingly friendly and welcoming.
Hayley and Amel were both very personable and helpful. It was clear they both are passionate about their work. Amel excitedly combed through my hair with her fingers, examining my color and explaining all the different hues she would use to brighten my naturally dirty blond hair to give me a stunning set of highlights.
Hayley and I looked at pictures in the salon’s tomes of hair style magazines to get ideas for new looks. We talked about a few possible styles, and Haley gave me her honest opinion of what would look best on me based on my lifestyle, face shape, hair texture and other considerations. When I proposed that I should go for more height on top, Hayley gently persuaded me to aim for a more contemporary look, pointing out that the style I suggested was “too prom.” I appreciated her candidness.
As I am someone who likes a more carefree and sporty hair style, I leaned toward one of the pictures from Vidal Sassoon’s Athletica collection, which was inspired by the Olympics. Vidal Sassoon offers new collections twice a year which often set the trends for the entire industry.
By the time Amel and Hayley were finished with me, I felt like I had just spent the afternoon hanging out with two close friends. They brought me magazines to ready, water with lemon to drink, and they even asked if I wanted anything when a co-worker was going out to pick up lunch. Though my cost for their services as a model was minimal, I made sure to reward Amel and Hayley with generous tips, and I liked that the receptionist had little envelopes that I could place my tip into and leave discreetly at the front desk. Just another touch of the salon’s professionalism.
I left Vidal Sassoon feeling like one of those women in the commercials. The products had left my hair feeling smooth and silky, and the chic cut made me feel confident and fierce.
Now that Amel and Hayley have graduated to full-fledged staff of the salon, I continue to go back to them for color and cuts, and we reminisce about my “days as a model.” I feel privileged that I met them when they were coming up in the world of hair professionals, and as they continue to rise as stars at Vidal Sassoon I will be proud to say, “I knew them when…”