My name is Sal Ventimiglia, your forum is fantastic!
I am a Roger Thompson admirer since I attended a Vidal Sassoon show in 1972.
Vidal at center stage Roger to his left, to Vidal’s right Philip Mason.
A turning point in my carrier, at the age of twenty, watching Roger a dedicated, meticulous artist at work.
Vidal the great showman, educated & entertained the audience, Roger a quiet individual said it all with his body position & purist cutting form, all his energy focused towards the scissors.
Philip is a hometown hero, as he went to London in the early days and came back as North America Artistic Director for Vidal Sassoon . Credit to Philip for his insight…(more about Philip later)
My view is a bit educated from exposure to the Sassoon system, did not understand a thing Roger was doing, all I know, the type of single minded focus is refreshing, the amount of effort and dedication towards a haircut inspired , as it left an imprint on this young man, early on, looking for significance in a craft that at this point has no direction.
I decided to stay focus on what Roger was doing, as I did not want to get confused about the haircutting going on by watching all three at the same time.
All do respect to Vidal cut a great bob, Philip cut a micro short (as it was called at that time) with disconnected longer fringe, added the shock value for the audience to wow about !
Roger’s is Vidal Sassoon International Artistic Director, his model stood out from the rest (no offense to Vidal or Philip) she glowed Roger’s model medium to small frame (bone structure) yet tall about 5’ 7’’ her hair type: wavy to curly, texture: heavy density beautiful women.
A short square layered cut, extended hairline below the occipital cut very close, gaining length towards the apex.
The sides: sideburns to mid ear cut to zero at the refined point as the thickness at the hairline overwhelming, cut to the tip of the ear pointing at the chin. A combined effort of gradual thickness and length starting at point at the sides, scissors over comb gradually from the point on the sides aiming at the apex
The top gradually gained length towards the frontal as it disconnected into a longer sweeping side fringe. Revolutionary.
The frontal hairline bended at mid eye brow level into a wave, left to right worked out into a subtle asymmetric sweeping fringe, enhanced by the growth pattern, gained length on the right side so the asymmetry is concealed within the wave pattern .(looking back ,the first example of asymmetric combined softness Roger’s trade mark. Such as the Havington.
Roger left the Vidal Sassoon a few year later to be on his own started doing training for the Glemby corporation in New York at the Glemby training center.
Roger’s quiet personality needed students that in order for him to teach ,understood the lesson by examples and a brief explanation the students wanted to become haircutters in three day and the corporate office expecting the same, well his stay was as brief as his communication skills, short and to the point.
America is a very different place from the UK. Roger first hand experience while at Sassoon in a few years managed to have the cream of New York as clients ,(as his brother in law Joshua Galvin said “ The cream always raise to the top” (More about Joshua later, One of the Best teachers along side Robert Edele , Caroline Hayes Thomas , John Santilli, Dwight Miller, Tony Rizzo and others ) Roger Thompson reserved personality and demeanor basically did not allowed his talent to be showcased in the United States, to date is all about the “fluff and not the stuff” the flip side of the coin is the success in New York allowed for him to continue to be a purist (a purist is a minimalist who believes that “less is more” and cut hair to it’s natural form and function, by using lines and planes as Ludwig Miles van der Rohe motto described ) Organizing the basic elements is what haircutting is all about, so simple yet so hard , here is where Roger is still the greatest inspiration of all times: the logical way that he cut hair so diverse that out of instinct (after years of mastering the craft and learning the rules, the rules can be broken or his case REINVENTED ) he started a haircut at will, at the sides, apex, back, standing in front of the client or any where that he chose to do so…
The only other four haircutters able to do this are Henry Able, Daryld Benson, Trevor Sorbie, Franco Scarpa,
New York for Roger started to be a bit overwhelming as he lived and raise his family in Connecticut took the train, an hour or so into Manhattan worked in a large loft with Charles Formulano and one assistant. (read walking the streets of New York)
This is roger at his best, I visited Roger in Manhattan and stood very quietly and became invisible for a few hours; This new client in her mid thirties walks in, the assistant sits her down and attended to her comforts, while roger is finishing up a bob that moved as it was born with that person. ( a haircut such as a bob is the epitome of simplicity with a degree of difficulty of ten on a one to ten scale. The placement on the bone structure is the key.)
This client an chattered on as Roger finishing detailing the cut to perfection, she said she was a dancer instructor, I am out of her view and about three meter back, as she went on to observe, as she was a regular client of Roger’s she continued to say “I have notice from watching Roger that every stylist need to be a dancer” Roger is done, as she stands up still her cutting robe move about the room towards the closet to pick her dress up and asked me “Hi my name is Julie what is yours?” I answered my name is Sal, how do you do? She proceeded to ask: what I did for a living? I answered I am a haircutter she said you mean you are a hairdresser? I said no a hairdresser is someone that does it all does your manicure ,gives you a massage , removes your excess hair and entertains you.
Roger actually smiled without taking his eye off the mirror of the consultation of his next client about to start.
Julie continue talking as I wanted to focus on Rogers consultation perhaps the only time I will hear Roger say anything. I let Julie briefly finish and she said “haircutting is like dancing in many ways as a teacher its my life that is all that I think about” “I have watched Roger cut my hair first at Sassoon and now here ,and I see the similarity in both discipline in dancing we give movement meaning and tell a story, in haircutting much the same way you assume a position before cutting the hair. She still has her dress in her hand, and it looked like she was not going anywhere soon. Her conversation was music to my ear, but Roger was starting the consultation on a first time client and I was not going to miss it. I extended my hand and said it was a pleasure talking to her.
Julie started to walk away, her perfectly straight hair with a slight bevel begins to move with her as she looked down and move back the hair was poetry in motion.
You see according to some of us: You can do your best flawless work, hitting the mark, when it happens it is combined with the client natural ability of posture and personality to “Carry it off”. THIS IS A GOOD DAY I AM IN HAIRCUT HEAVEN!
Roger’s next client has ,fine hair but there is allot of it , a natural blond with “sun kissed highlights”: over the shoulders it’s the type of hair , the longer it is , the thinner it gets.
Roger begins the consultation by asking: “what is your length preference” she replied
You can do anything you want. At this point I am the luckiest man in the world.
Roger takes his denman brush inclines a bit towards the client , as he stands over six feet and start brushing the hair back to look at the front, sides and back natural growth pattern a bit of brushing back and forth to further establish the innate qualities of the hair. The assistant takes her to the shampoo bowl.
Roger asked about “where I was working?” I answered at the Chicago Vidal Sassoon salon under the art direction of Paul Tortoriello ,who you trained in UK sometime in the late sixties early seventies, he praised Maurice Tyde talent who originally opened the Chicago salon (More about Maurice later a haircutter who’s dexterity is one of his many superb qualities his vision pre punk in New York in the early seventies called “EXPLOSION year ahead of it’s time ).
The client is back from the shampoo bowl as the assistant confirm “no conditioner was used” as roger had requested. Starts combing through the hair as the hair is talking to him (forgive me, if your not a haircutter it is hard to conceive that hair can talk)
Starts at the back by parting the hair from the apex to the lower occipital bone start cutting … with his 4 1/2 or 5 inch scissors. The Logistics of a graduated bob are perhaps the hardest part of the test when you are trying to pass the haircutting class to get on the floor as a stylist or as Dwight Miller once said “ It took him three month to get the Isadora (A haircut created by Roger in honor of the great orginator dancer of modern dance, her trade mark was wearing long flowing materials as she danced) (More about the genius of Dwight later)
Roger continued the haircut with precise diagonal partings…
Roger and Philip went unnoticed as most of the audience focused on Vidal cutting a fantastic bob with the assistant holding the hair in place as he’s cutting.
A first for all the hairdressers attending the show.
PS keep in touch Sal. email@example.com