Sunday, November 27, 2011

Style Inspiration: Nancy Kwan & Vidal Sassoon

Nancy Kwan modeling her Vidal Sassoon cut for a 1968 issue of Vogue.  Photo by Terry Donovan.

When I was looking for photos for my previous post about Grace Coddington, I came across this lovely photograph of the beautiful Eurasian actress Nancy Kwan, who enjoyed popularity in the late '50s and '60s.  Like Coddington, Kwan had her hair cut by the famous Vidal Sassoon.

Kwan was probably most famous for her roles in the 1958 musical Flower Drum Song and 1960's The World of Suzie Wong, co-starring William Holden.  Her long, lustrous black hair was chopped off for her role in the 1963 comedy The Wild Affair.  The asymmetrical bob, which was previously known as the Mary Quant cut, quickly became known as the Nancy Kwan cut and was one of Sassoon's most famous.  Kwan played a game of chess as Sassoon worked his magic.

An excerpt from his book, Sorry I kept you waiting, Madam:
She sat down quietly. Her manager called for a little table, and as I got ready to work, he produced a chessboard and began setting up the pieces.

As I used barber's shears on that magnificent rope of black hair, she never raised her head. She moved only when she stretched out a hand to move one of her chessmen.

She won, and I think I won, too. The game and the cut finished almost simultaneously. Nancy stood up and gazed at herself for a full minute in the mirror. Then her reflection smiled out at me.

As soon as they had gone, I telephoned Max Maxwell of Vogue and told him what I had just done. He told me to hold on for a moment, and when he came back, he said, "I've spoken to the editor. We want Terry Donovan to do a picture of her. We're going to give it a whole page, not only here, but maybe in American Vogue, too."

A few days later I met Nancy again in Terry's studio. Immediately she said, "I like it. Everybody likes it. It's so easy to manage."

The following morning Terry showed me the picture he had chosen from the dozen she had taken. I knew at once it was a winner. It was used not only in the British and American editions of Vogue, but circled the world. (Source)

 Photo Source: nancy-kwan.com

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