Rewind: Interview with Vidal & Ronnie Sassoon
The name Vidal Sassoon is synonymous with shiny, glossy and healthy hair. In this Rewind, we take you back to our interview with husband and wife team, Vidal and Ronnie Sassoon as they introduce us to their amazing life jet-setting around the globe and canine family, past and present, and we discover more about the man behind the brand.
Vidal sadly passed away in 2012 but at the time they spoke with Kim O'Meara they had just hosted a wedding for Vidal’s youngest daughter, he was writing his autobiography and Ronnie, a well reputed designer, was decorating a recently purchased flat in London.
Tell us about your pets. Names, breeds and ages.
Ronnie: We presently have two female Shih Tzus. Mochi is 9 years old and Lulu is 5 months. Lulu is the new addition to the family, since we lost our male Shih Tzu, Mikey, to Lymphoma.
The Sassoon name is synonymous with amazing hair and product ranges, have you ever wished at anytime in your career you had taken a different career path?
Vidal: My cuts were based on architectural shapes, but having to enter the work force at the not so tender age of 14, architecture was not on. The year was 1942 and Hitler’s Luftwaffe nightly was doing its best to rearrange the looks of London. It was to be 1954 before I opened my first Salon in London, having worked with many fine craftsmen who had taught me well.
Raymond was the numero uno, a master with the scissors. I studied his methods and owe him much. Then came the metamorphosis in the sixties, no longer hairdressing, but architectural geometric cuts, aided by colour and curl. I’m grateful to hair for giving me the vehicle to create and so are our Shih Tzus who I practice on occasionally.
When did your interest in pets/animals begin and how long have you been a pet owner?
Ronnie: I have always had some sort of pet since I was a little girl: lizards, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats and dogs. I can’t imagine life without them.
Being the animal lover that you are, have there ever been any times in your life when you have wanted a period of independence, with no animal responsibilities?
Ronnie: Yes, we’ve thought about it and how much work and responsibility would be eliminated by not having them but they bring so much joy to our lives, that we are hooked.
There’s an old adage, never work with animals or children. Can you recall any times when you wished you’d taken heed of this advice?
Ronnie/Vidal: No, we think one should always have that great energy and curiosity surrounding them.
Finish the following sentence: My dog is my…..
Ronnie: My dog is my baby.
Vidal: My dog is my morning happiness.
We have heard amazing stories of the unique 1950’s style of your home in Beverly Hills, when you were re-styling your home, did you decide to take any steps to ensure your home or garden is pet friendly, if so, what did you do and do you have any tips you would recommend?
Ronnie/Vidal: We definitely have a strict rule…”No pesticides anywhere” inside or outside the house. Because the pool is inside and outside we also teach our dogs to swim and show them the escape steps from the pool.
Describe your average day at home with your pets.
Ronnie/Vidal: First thing we do every morning is take the dogs for a nice long walk. It puts everything right for the rest of the day for all of us. Then throughout the day if either of us is going to a dog friendly place, we take them. They have a busy social schedule!
For this question, we ask our celebs to match up the following people’s personality to a breed of dog, for example, George Bush = Dalmatian , Winston Churchill = Bulldog or J.Lo = Afghan Hound.
Mick Jagger – Shar-Pei
Kate Moss - Chihuahua
Mary Quant - Pekingese
George Michael – French Bull Dog
Simon Cowell – Pit Bull
Cher – Afghan Hound
Which do you prefer and why?
Big dogs or little dogs - Ronnie/Vidal: Little dogs for now because they are easier to travel with and there is more space left on the bed!
Pedigree dogs or cross-breeds - Ronnie/Vidal: Pedigree means nothing unless you want a “show dog”. It’s about giving them a loving home and choosing a dog that fits your personality.
Days off or days at work - Ronnie/Vidal: We both like to stay busy so those days off are really appreciated.
The quickest route or the scenic route - Ronnie/Vidal: Depending on the mission. Some days you just need to get there, but one must always take as much time whenever possible to observe nature and feel a part of the universe and that means “take your foot off the gas pedal.”
Lead and collar or dog running free – Ronnie/Vidal: A dog needs the security and discipline of a leash and collar when away from the house, but in a friend’s back garden or in our own home, there is no need to keep them restrained in any way.
You have both been quoted talking of your passion for architecture, where is your favourite place to visit to take in the beauty of the architectural surroundings?
Ronnie: LA is full of surprises. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you turn the corner and see some fabulous mission-style, mid-century or contemporary building that takes your breath. My favorite new building is in my hometown, Cincinnati, and that is the Contemporary Art Museum, designed by Zaha Hadid.
Time to be controversial. If an establishment, say a hotel, had a blanket ban on pets do you?
a) refuse to give them your custom with the theory of ‘if you don’t want my pet then you don’t want me’
b) drop the ‘do you know who I am’ bomb and see if they will make an exception
c) accept the decision but make a note to find a more pet friendly hotel in the future
Ronnie/Vidal: ( c) It’s almost always best to accept and respect other people and their rules when you are in their environment.
Describe the last time you…
Had to shout at your pet – Ronnie/Vidal: We never shout at or hit out pets – ever.
Had to go to the vet – Vidal: The vet question is sensitive. We lost Mikey to Lymphoma so Ronnie practically lived at the vet’s during his illness and remembers it all much too vividly.
Didn’t get the job you wanted – Ronnie/Vidal: It’s been a while since either of us has been job hunting …still doing the old one.
Thought about getting another animal (besides what you have already) – Ronnie/Vidal: We’ve thought about getting another puppy for Lulu to play with since Mochi is too old to play puppy games, but then we would be outnumbered.
Trained your pet to do something new – Ronnie: We’re dog training right now with Lulu. She does well with the command, “off” (usually when she’s in the closet chewing the hem of one of my dresses or Vidal’s slippers.
Out of all the celebrities you have met, whose hair would you have most liked to work on?
Vidal: Lady Thatcher.
It's well publicised how much we all pamper our pets these days, do you treat Mochi and Mikey to any specially cooked meals or pampering on a daily basis?
Ronnie/Vidal: Mochi and Lulu eat freshly prepared meals every day: chicken, turkey or lamb with barley or rice and vegetables.
On a scale of 1 to 10 – How do you rate yourself with a Poop Scoop?
Ronnie/Vidal: “0” – we use plastic sandwich bags, which is another advantage to having small dogs.
Earlier this year we crowned the UK's Coolest Canine, a German Shepherd who saved her owner from a house fire. If you were entering your dog into the UK Coolest Canine competition what would be your dog's biggest claim to fame/talent/party piece etc?
Ronnie/Vidal: Being excellent guard dogs with lots of barking for visitors.
What is the most extravagant item that you have bought for your dog(s)?
Ronnie/Vidal: We bought Hermes collars and leashes once in Paris when we were missing them terribly.
What sort of car do you drive and how does your dog travel?
Ronnie/Vidal: We each have sports cars, Ronnie a Mercedes, Vidal a Jaguar.
Mochi gets the side-saddle position on the driver’s lap. Mikey was always content on the passenger seat, but Lulu now fights for the driver’s side. She clearly does not want to be the beta dog, so we don’t know who will win at this point.
If your dogs had the ability to answer one question and one question only, what would you ask them and what do you think that they would say?
Ronnie/Vidal: The burning question is “why do you always sniff other dog’s poop? Can you really tell whose it is?” Their answer would be “because ours doesn’t smell
Many Thanks Vidal & Ronnie!