Sunday Express 19th April 1992
It was a natural. Where else for him to shop but the King's Road of the 90s? That's what Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles is, with round-the-clock style from the cafes to the cabarets. And not all of it deliberately staged.
Ricky Castillo, "stylist" at Maxfield on Melrose Avenue, is very discreet about who shops there, but if you pop around with Vidal Sassoon on a Saturday afternoon, as we did, it's A to Z Hollywood. Maxfield is the place where Jack Nicholson buys T-shirts at prices that would meet other people's mortgage repayments, where Kim Basinger goes when she wants a little something for that movie premiere. It's a bit like Everest -people shop at Maxfield because it's there.
And it's where Vidal goes when he wants to feel at home. Clothes are pricy but exclusive, with outfits from Armani to Yamamoto on offer. But it wasn't the clothes that first grabbed Vidal's credit card. It was the architecture.
"It was the style of the place that first attracted me," says Vidal, out shopping with his soon-to-be fourth wife Rhonda Holbrook. "The minimalistic look, the atmosphere of Maxfield appealed to me so much that we decided Larry Totah, the interior designer, could create something for us at home in Beverly Hills," explains the East End boy who has become very much part of those hills.
Vidal Sassoon is the man who built a business empire on a pair of scissors. He set up shop in Bond Street in 1955, styled Mary Quant's and Mia Farrow's hair, and went on to become the king of the cuts. But ask him if he feels American or British now, and you'll find he is "a citizen of the world".
At 64, he's a tremendous advert for cosmetic surgery, healthy eating and exercise. He is one of the original Beautiful People but also Mr Clean Cut. Which is another reason why Maxfield is so appropriate.
It is clean - chic white and grey surfaces, skylights and clothes arranged on steel rails and shelves. "I think it works because you can come in for just a small item, or outfit yourself for a trip. If you're going to the beach in Hawaii or the corporate office in New York, you can get what you need.
"And the choice is tremendous. I don't think there's anywhere else on the West Coast that offers such a range. I'm not a shopper and I usually know what I need. But you can be comfortable here."
Sassoon talks softly with an energy that seems immune to age. He says the secret is enthusiasm, which in turn provides the energy: "If you are working at top form, you have more time for other people and their needs, too."
He is remarkably upbeat about life. Attempts at marriage have failed three times before, but he is confident it will work this time: "We get along very well," he says, gazing at twenty something Rhonda.
His children are grown up. Katya, 24, left home at 15 and is now an actress. Elan, 21, David, 20 and Eden, 19, are all at college.
"We've had our ups and down but the children are doing very well which is, of course, the most important thing." Like their father, the hairdresser who went from Bethnal Green to Beverly Hills, success, it seems, is just a way of life.
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