Sassoon Style: An Interview at the Iconic Salon

April 2, 2008 • Fashion


When I learned I would be interviewing Nicole Tabloff, Color Director, and Marilyn Harmon, Creative Director, of Sassoon Salon Chicago, I began wondering how I was going to accomplish setting these women apart from the rest of the talented people in the industry today. As it turned out, Tabloff and Harmon didn’t need my help; their exceptional work has set them apart from the crowds since the beginning of their careers.

In 2007, Vidal Sassoon Salon officially  changed its name to Sassoon Salon, stating that just like Chanel, Pucci, and Prada…Sassoon need not include a first name. After all, Sassoon is one of the most recognizable brands in hair and the world over. The salon recently launched S T R E T C H  Spring Summer 2008 Collection.


Tabloff explains there are two different collections to this program.  The Salon Collection is client friendly, a mixture of contemporary and classic styles. The Academy Collection focuses not in wearability, but is solely the sake of art. When asked which technique she prefers, Tabloff doesn’t hesitate. "I love interacting with my clients. They are the top of their fields." Longevity is the main goal; Tabloff’s clients aren’t into Hollywood trends. They do what works for them. However, Tabloff does admit the shows she does several times a year do indeed break up the monotony of working with clients. As a Sassoon Color Director, she is responsible for educating and inspiring those she works with, which in turn serves to further educate and inspire herself. As Tabloff put it, "You don’t just train and then your done."

Growing up in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, Tabloff worked at a record store and a car dealership. At only 18, she joined Sassoon and trained under several of the Sassoon greats, including Annie Humphreys and Clancey Gurn-Calloway. She worked in Atlanta, Berlin, and Scottsdale before returning to Chicago as Color Director. Among many other accomplishments Tabloff received the honor of Sassoon "North American Tinter of the Year."

"Maxfactor boomed during the Great Depression," Tabloff explains. "I knew I wanted a sustainable career; something that could withstand bad economic times."  She doesn’t foresee technology replacing the human touch that is so necessary in this industry.


Next it was time to meet Marilyn Harmon, Creative Director of Sassoon Salon Chicago. Harmon, who is four months pregnant, welcomed me to her station and after  surveying my damaged blonde hair suggested we do a little trim to clean up the split ends. I commented how much I loved her cut (shoulder length brunette with heavy bangs). She suggested we do something similar on me. Knowing what a "commitment" bangs are, I declined, but I did take her up on a trim offer.

Harmon joined Sassoon nine years ago, and was named Creative Director in 2006. She places a  strong emphasis on training, especially since a large part of her position involves teaching and motivating other stylists in the Chicago salon. However, like Tabloff, Harmon very much enjoys working with her clients, who range over several different generations, backgrounds, and personal styles. The parallels between art, fashion, and architecture are important and provide inspiration for Harmon and her profession. She received the coveted recognition of Sassoon "Stylist of the Year", an award given to the best Sassoon Stylist in the United States — clearly a testament to her unparalleled talent.

After chatting for about a half an hour, I glanced back at the mirror behind me. Harmon chopped off about 5 inches of my hair, and was going back for more! Speechless, I reminded myself it’s just hair and it grows back. Maybe my split ends were longer than I’d realized. But, as we all know, the shock of a hair cut can be a very powerful emotional experience, which I held back from expressing until I left the salon. I couldn’t believe that my blonde hair was half the length it had been just an hour before.

Yet, after inspecting it in the mirror for longer than I am willing to admit, I realized something. As Creative Director, this woman really knows what she’s doing. The cut she gave me was the most beautiful hair cut I have ever had in my life, and the complements just keeping coming. Harmon’s styling is truly an art form, and I feel very lucky to have encountered her creativity — whether I was looking for it or not. As Oriana Fallaci once said, "Each interview is a portrait of myself." In my case, this statement could not be less metaphorical.

—Emilie Furda

Images courtesy of AE Public Relations

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