Vidal Sassoon revolutionized hairstyling in the 1960s. His easy-to-maintain, precision cut bobs and geometric shapes modernized women’s hair. Sassoon is credited with inventing the five-point haircut to complement the bone structure of model and Vogue creative director, Grace Coddington. He gave Mia Farrow her famous pixie cut for the 1968 film Rosemary’s Baby, and his most famous cut at the time was the asymmetrical bob or the Nancy Kwan, which he cut for the actress’s role in the 1963 comedy The Wild Affair. “My whole work, beginning in the late 1950s, came from the Bauhaus,” Sassoon explains in April’s Architectural Digest. “It was all about studying the bone structure of the face, to bring out the character. Architects have always been my heroes,” he adds.
With his love of architecture, it makes sense that in 2004 for $6 million, Sassoon and wife Ronnie purchased the iconic Singleton House designed by Richard Neutra. The home was originally commissioned in 1959 by industrialist Henry Singleton for its spectacular Bel Air location atop Mulholland Drive with views of the Pacific, downtown, the desert, and San Gabriel Mountains.
When the couple purchased the Singleton House, it was in disrepair. Just two weeks after closing, part of the roof collapsed, and a few months later a huge chunk of the property slid into the neighbor’s yard. Due to dry rot and modern code requirements, the Sassoons did extensive rebuilding of the home. They worked with contractor Scott Werker of GW Associates of L.A. to replace the damaged ceilings, pour new terrazzo floors, and remove a number of walls to create larger, brighter interior spaces. They also added a master bedroom suite, which Ronnie designed with Werker and building planner Tim Campbell. Ronnie, however, is unapologetic about any changes they made. “Unless the house is a museum, or you only spend a few weeks a year there, you just can’t live this way today. And given how valuable the land is, the house would have been torn down,” she says. (Which is exactly what is potentially happening with Richard Neutra’s 1955 Kronish House in Beverly Hills.)
After the remodel was complete, the couple turned to close friend and decorator Martyn Lawrence-Bullard for advice on the interiors. The kitchen features a Saarinen Tulip table and chairs by Knoll and built-in cabinets by Neutra; the hanging cabinet and stool are by Jean Prouvé.
Left out of the Architectural Digest article, is mention of the fact that the Sassoons have been trying to sell the Singleton House on and off since 2007. (Although, what better advertisement for the home?) They listed the 5+ acre, 4 bedroom, 5 bath residence for $20M in 2007. It was on the market for 471 days and then taken off until February of 2009, when it was re-listed with an asking price of $14.995M. It’s now back off the market.
See more of Neutra’s Singleton House, after the break!
A gallery displays works by, from left, Étienne Hajdu, Ellsworth Kelly, and Lucio Fontana. The benches are by Perriand.
The living room includes Visiteur armchairs by Prouvé, a Perriand cocktail table, and, over the fireplace, Alexander Calder’s Escutcheon (1954).
Yoyo, one of the couple’s Shih Tzus, poses on a fur-throw-covered platform bed, which is original to the house. The armchair is vintage Osvaldo Borsani, and the sculpture is a 1964 piece by Harry Bertoia. Serge Mouille sconces flank Concetto Spaziale, a 1963 Fontana painting.
Ronnie designed the terrazzo tub in the master bath. The 1950s stool is by Perriand, and the chair is an Erwine and Estelle Laverne design.
Turning the World Upside Down (1996) by Anish Kapoor stands in a courtyard. The 1954 Loop chairs are by Willy Guhl.
For more on the extraordinary life of Sassoon, check out the feature documentary Vidal Sassoon: The Movie. I watched it recently and it’s definitely worth a look.
(Story courtesy of James Reginato for Architectural Digest. Photographed and produced by Todd Eberle. Published April 2011.)