Michael Gordon: Bumble & Bumble Hair Icon
Michael Gordon, founder and CEO of Bumble & bumble has had a spectacular career in the hair industry.
(Image of Michael Gordon - courtesy of Bumble & bumble - all rights reserved - 2005)
The son of a hairdresser, Michael opened Bumble and bumble in 1977 in a tiny space on 57th Street in New York hoping to compete with Manhattan's tony names in hairdressing. After only one year, the salon was listed in Vogue as one of the top 10 in New York City and has remained a leader on that list ever since.
Besides being a brilliant hairdresser, wildly successful salon owner, renowned photographer and product development genius, he embarked on a true mission of love writing the very successful book, Hair Heroes.
The book includes in-depth profiles of twelve of the world's most renowned stylists including Kenneth Battelle who invented Jackie O's famous bouffant and Sydney Guilaroff who was the head hairdresser on over 1,500 films during the golden age of Hollywood. History maker Vidal Sassoon is included and explains how he changed the world of hair by inventing blow-drying back in the day.
Recently I had the thrilling opportunity to ask Michael questions about his work on Hair Heroes. What follows are my questions notated as KMS and his answers as MG.
Ten Year Odessy Of Hair Heroes
KMS: What life event triggered your desire to begin a ten year odyssey to write and complete Hair Heroes?
MG: I decided to write Hair Heroes for the same reason I started creating our own products, which is because no one was doing it right. I felt that our industry needed more aspirational things. Hairdressing images are not usually portrayed as the best or the most interesting. There is a lack of young people coming into it and I wanted to show a deeper side to the craft.
MG: I had the top five in my head: Sassoon, Kenneth, Alexandre, Gene Shacove, and Sydney. We went to LA and interviewed a bunch of people, then picked the most interesting and impactful ones. I did not want to get into the contemporaries – like Orlando, Guido, etc.
KMS: Were the “heroes” in the book your own personal heroes?
MG: In many ways. Every other profession has libraries, professions, a deep wealth of historical information. There are many books on hair, but not about the heroic things that were done in the industry. Its a tough job. The common thread in all these peoples lives is that they loved what they did and kept doing it. My hope is that Hair Heroes gives hairstylists a reason to go on.
MG: I have realized that I have a responsibility as a hairdresser myself. There is a responsibility to be a role model.
MG: I have become very close friends with Vidal Sassoon, and am also friendly with Christiaan. Sadly, many of the heroes have passed away.
MG: I learned a great deal from the legends I sat down with. I’m still 10 years younger than any of them, but am continuously awed by their greatness after admiring them from afar for years. I learned a great deal about passion, skill and the love of the craft.
MG: I wouldn’t do it differently, no. But I would have written it faster!
MG: I didn’t approach each subject in a formulaic way. Their impact on the craft became very apparent in our conversations.
MG: My goal in writing this book was to honor the craft of hairdressing. Hairdressing is an uncelebrated profession, plus these stories get forgotten. I wanted to leave an indelible trail.
MG: Yes, but I haven’t yet decided on the topic.
MG: I consider myself to be a writer amongst many other things.KMS: In your own right, you are a hair hero…a true icon of the hair industry. You have accomplished spectacular success in the world of hair, fashion & art. Do you plan to write a book about your life and successes? It certainly would be a great read for both hairdressers and hair consumers.
MG: It is under consideration.
MG: I continuously strive to learn and grow in all areas of my life.
KMS: You seem to be constantly busy with your many professional commitments related to B&b and the school and salon. What do you do in your spare time and how does that inspire you…or not….to constantly be at the forefront of hair and fashion trends? What is the source of his timeless & always sage hair advice?
MG: I study yoga and Buddhism and spend time with family, amongst other things. I also enjoy photography and spend a lot of time shooting makeovers and shows internally for Bumble & bumble.
MG: The misconception that we (hairdressers) are uneducated, gossipy and trivial lightweights.
About Bumble & bumble
Founded in 1977, Bumble and bumble has made its way into beauty and fashion editors' offices all over the globe. As a Salon and Hair Product Company, Bumble and bumble has transformed the hair industry, emphasizing the individual, transcending trends, and launching looks.
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