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John Sahag – Star hairdressers

May 21, 2015

Fashion doesn’t begin and end with clothes, as we all know. Accessories and how outfits are styled play a big part. And then, there’s hair and makeup. Then there’s John Sahag, whose unique cutting method influenced hairstyles through the Eighties and beyond..

 

Superstar hairdressers have always been able to make or break a look. Think of Vidal Sassoon, who defined the look of the 60s, Nicky Clarke who guided our hair ideas in the 90s, and showmen like Charlie le Mindu, who designs wigs and hairstyles for Lady Gaga, amongst others.

Star hairdressers– John Sahag

Remember the cute, boyish haircut that Demi Moore wore in Ghost? The one that launched a thousand pixie haired imitators? It was created by John Sahag, the “Rock God of Hairdressing”.

John Sahag, Rock star hairdresser

With his wild mop of hair and leather trousers, John Sahag certainly looked the part. He cut the hair of a number of other celebrities, including Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt and Deborah Messing too. He was flown around the world by private jet to attend to the heads of royalty and rockstars, and he also worked on magazine editorials and catwalk shows.

John Sahag, the mad professor of hair

But his haircuts were not just for celebrities. He pioneered a cutting technique where the hair was first dried to total straightness and then sliced into, seemingly randomly but always effectively, in an almost intuitive way to build texture and volume.

 

The idea was that, if the hair was dry, the hairdresser has a better idea of exactly what they are working with. This technique works especially well on people who have fine hair but lots of it, the sort that can be entirely unmanageable under the wrong hands.

 

“John was like the mad professor of hair,” said Edward Tricomi, owner of the Warren-Tricomi salon, who developed the dry cutting technique alongside John Sahag in the 1970s. “It was the difference from painting by numbers to sketching a haircut by hand,” Mr. Tricomi explained. “You didn’t cut a haircut, you felt it.”

 

Having perfected the cut, John went on to train others in how to create the ultimate hairdo. In this way, his ideas spread across the world and many people still swear by them, refusing to have their hair cut any other way.

John Sahag - Star hairdressers

Gwyneth and Brad in matching John Sahag hairdos.

 

Difficult genius

Yet although his haircuts were in demand, like many creative geniuses, Sahag wasn’t always easy to work with. Helen Oppenheim, who worked with him for many years on PR amongst other roles, had already resigned once when she was lured back by John with the promise of becoming his “Ambassadress”. She remembered: “I had fun, it was wonderful, but it was also madness, painful, and I was often working 14-hour days that no one knew about except me, and I was not really appreciated, until I resigned after 3 years. Then, he wanted me back again. “I love you, come back” but I never could.”

John sahag works his magic on Isabella Rossellini

John sahag works his magic on Isabella Rossellini

 

Born in Beirut

John Sahag was born Sahag Jamgotchian, on Jan. 2, 1952, in Beirut, Lebanon. The family soon moved to Australia, where he grew up, sweeping the floor of a hairdresser’s as a child. At the age of 18 he moved to Paris to start his apprenticeship in cutting hair.

 

After developing his dry cutting techniques as a freelancer, his first salon was opened in New York in 1985. He died on June 15th 2005 in the Bronx.

 

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