It’s been said that everyone needs a hero. Superman, police officers, ballerinas. This is never more important than when we are young (and impressionable), as Bb. was in the late seventies. Here are our heroes. Some we knew personally, others we admired from a distance, but all of them helped to shape Bumble and bumble in one way or another.
Michael Gordon came to NYC in 1977 and founded an unknown salon on the fringe of Hairdresser’s Row, where he and his staff clipped, combed, permed and styled their way onto Vogue’s Top Ten list through perseverance (and shrewd public relations). A legendary editorial team, backstage access, a design ethic, and extraordinary products all came later, but it all started here and with him.
Rene (of Mayfair) was a virile, vibrant Frenchman who owned the eponymous salon, where the English upper crust came to have their shampoos and sets in the Sixties (and the salon where Bb. founder Michael Gordon first apprenticed). Known for his dramatic entrances accessorized with Doug Heywood suits, a screeching white Jaguar, and a gaggle of wealthy, often titled clients who waited hours for the honor of attention from the master.
Monsieur Antoine (1884-1967) was a gifted and legendary hairdresser who worked on luminaries, artists and royalties beginning at the turn of the 20th century. He came from Warsaw, invented the bob, had international acclaim, reportedly slept in a coffin, and taught Alexandre de Paris nearly everything he knew. It was a photograph of an Antoine cut that inspired Bb. to bring back the straight razor.
Alexandre de Paris (1922-2008) will forever be known as Paris’ most famous hairdresser. He was premier garcon to hairdressing legend Monsieur Antoine, ruled the runways of the French haute couture beginning in the 1950’s, and had two world-renowned salons which were imbibed with his legendary elegance, grace, humility. His impressive list of clients included Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, Princess Grace, Maria Callas, Begum Aga Kahn, Sophia Lauren, and Mrs. Wallis Simpson.
Leonard Lewis was the coolest of the cool in 1960’s London, where he reigned over the House of Leonard. He worked with Stanley Kubrick and Jack Nicholson, gave Twiggy the crop that put her on the modeling map, and passed his legacy on by training greats such as Nicky Clarke, John Freida, Keith Wainwright, Michael Van Clarke, and Bb. founder Michael Gordon.
Kenneth (or Mr. Kenneth) elevated salon hairdressing to a new level by creating the House of Kenneth in New York in 1962, which quickly became a haven for members of New York society. Service was given lavishly and secrets kept solemnly for socialites, senator’s wives and celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy, for whom he created the famous (and oft imitated) bouffant.
Diana Vreeland (1903-1989) served as the industry’s most groundbreaking Editor in Chief at American Vogue from 1963-1971, (and as an equally revolutionary Fashion Editor at Harper’s Bazaar for the 23 years before that). She dressed nearly exclusively in Chanel, adored the color red, discovered Edie Sedgewick, and was immortalized in the films Funny Face, Factory Girl, Infamous, and (at least partly) in The Devil Wears Prada.
Barry Lategan was the premiere fashion photography in the sixties, responsible for turning Twiggy into a household name, and was the photographer on the first shoot attended by the very young and impressionable hairdresser (and future Bb. founder) Michael Gordon.
Vidal Sassoon needs little introduction except to say that he revolutionized the way hair is cut and how haircutting is learned around the globe. We revere him for his vision, extraordinary talent and contribution to the craft – all are unequaled.
Ara Gallant is little known today, but he was the first true star of the session world, working for photographers Richard Avedon and Irving Penn when Mrs. Vreeland ran the show at American Vogue. Sadly, little documentation of his work remains, but his brilliance is lasting.
Martin Morris was the first Bb. editorial hairdresser; a uniquely discerning ponytail-wearing Englishman who would only work editorially (meaning, no highly lucrative advertising campaigns). He came to Bb. in 1982 on a handshake deal and used the most unusual concoctions to produce the effects he needed for British and Italian Vogues (which got Bb. founder Michael Gordon thinking of making elixirs of his own). To this day, Morris is one of the most extraordinarily talented hairdressers we’ve ever had in our arsenal.
Wally Hlavac was the chemist behind our first product, Brilliantine, and all of the other early Bb. products – he was a uniquely talented chemist, and dear friend, until his death in 2005.
Gianni Versace changed fashion shows forever in the mid-eighties when he sent supermodels down the catwalk (instead of the lesser-known runway models); the shows instantly went from industry-only to media circus, and the rest is history.
Christiaan was the first truly radical thinker in hairdressing; cherished for his spontaneity, his collaboration with photographer Arthur Elgort (and the stirring images that resulted), and the way he shook up the establishment in the seventies (when it really needed shaking). Everyone loves a rebel – this Dutchman is still going strong today working for Vogue, Allure, you name it.
Howard and Raymond McLaren can wield a straight razor better than anyone. These brothers came to Bb. (from Glasgow) in the late eighties, re-discovered the razor, defined our cutting style, and attracted apprentices from around the globe who flocked to Bb to learn their techniques. It wouldn’t be Bb. without them. Today, Howard is our VP, Senior Artistic Director and Raymond is one of the top session stylists in the business.
Alexander Brebner first came to Bb. as a client when he worked for the design firm M&Co, under the tutelage of Tibor Kalman. He was asked to design the packaging and logo of the first Bb. products (and many more after). Ever wonder who drew all those Bb.’s?