Today, moving from what Vidal Sassoon said in the interview featured in Friday’s post, I'd like to explore the architecture and geometry of some hairstyles.
To do it we will have to go back to the 60s and fashion. Throughout this decade many fashion designers based their creations on plain lines, avoiding embellishments and often integrating in their dresses and suits the severe lines of sleek architectures or pieces of furniture.
Rigid materials such as PVC, gabardine and metallic elements, that didn’t mould on the body but created sculptural shelters around it, showed fashion's derivation from disciplines such as architecture, geometry and even engineering.
While new synthetic substances superseded traditional materials of construction, also fashion designers started finding fabrics inadequate to their innovative and experimental designs.
As highlighted in a previous post, the modern forms and silhouettes designed by André Courrèges called to mind the work of architects such as Le Corbusier and Eero Saarinen or were inspired by the Bauhaus movement and
the Russian Constructivist school.
Yet the simplicity and precision on which the French civil engineer, pilot and fashion designer based his creations also moved from mathematical and geometrical principles.
The perfection of Courrèges’s 1968-69 collection stood in a balanced mathematical equation: his rocket-shaped triple layered capes worn with hoods referenced indeed in their triangular shapes the number 3.
Even Rabanne’s method to make paper dresses was derived from a process employed to produce architects’ plans.
It wasn't uncommon for fashion designers in the 60s to collaborate with friends who worked in the architecture field.
Rabanne was a friend of architect Antoine Stinco, from French group Utopie, and in fashion books Rabanne's name is often mentioned in conjunction with the creations of interior designer Quasar Khanh and his wife Emmanuelle.
So, if architectural structures inspired garments conceived as buildings for the body, it must have been almost obvious for Sassoon to mix sartorial talent and architectural design in hairdressing, trying to prove that, if designing a building and making dresses had quite a few things in common, probably the same could be said about designing buildings and cutting hair.
A clear example of an architectural hairstyle was the Five Point Geometric Cut, created by Sassoon in 1964 on a young model named Grace Coddington who later on became the Fashion Editor of British Vogue.
The cut remained unequalled for its absolute geometry and it helped the hairdresser becoming famous all over the world.
Now, it's interesting to note that, while Sassoon based this cut on five points, Le Corbusier designed his Villa Savoye moving from his manifesto, Les 5 Points d'une architecture nouvelle (The Five Points towards a New Architecture).
Developed in 1926, Le Corbusier's manifesto was based on the pilotis or supports, the roof garden, the free plan and free facade and long horizontal sliding windows.
While Le Corbusier's manifesto came to illustrate the principles behind his domestic architectures, Sassoon's five geometrical points became not only his signature style, but the basis for his entire system.
In 1965 Sassoon developed a geometric cut to mark the opening of his first salon in America and began experimenting with asymmetries that followed the natural hair growth at the nape.
He created asymmetrical cuts to complement an Emmanuel Ungaro collection or long styles – with hair cut short at the nape and long at the sides with a line that encouraged hair to swing freely but also to fall perfectly into shape for their precise cut – for a Mila Schön catwalk show.
Further experiments with geometries were achieved in 1980 thanks to bold and clean cuts such as the Cadette.
Sensual and alternative shapes and forms in architecture - such as the swirls and swooping lines of Eero
Saarinen’s Trans World Airlines terminal at Kennedy International
Airport - helped overcoming the structural boredom that had prevailed in previous years while a new architectural language based on the principles of transformation and invention and able to engage in a social dialogue with modern men and women, was created.
Details, materials and structures were radically transformed thanks to innovative building techniques, assuming new values, but so did clothes, accessories and hairstyles, employed to break boundaries, create modern identities and lifestyles and inspire new ideals.
Iconic buildings inspired iconic styles
and, while the former renewed urban landscapes, the latter renewed human
beings, bearing witness to the transformation in values and
mores society went through.