A rare piece of video of Roger Thompson that you can find on
Go and see....!
A MEMORY FROM HAROLD LEIGHTON..................
To get to Roger Thompson I have to go back a few years earlier to around 1955 when my partner Gerard Saper and I took on a new kid in our salon on Harrow on the Hill salon, his name Ivan Sherman a young skinny guy with a mop of dark brown hair. He was sent to us by his mum and dad. They had herd that we had a very busy salon and that we taught all our young apprentices that we accepted and put them on a contract for a fee of £100.00 and became hairdressers after one year working and training 4 nights a week.
Ivan was a great student and I do remember I used to say about him. He has the creativeness to be another Vidal Sassoon. He got on so well in the salon, his work was very expressive and forward thinking in his style, he learnt so much in such a short period .
After three years Ivan left the Harrow salon to opened his first salon in Finchley road London.
In 1958 Roger Thompson was recommended to meet Ivan Sherman through his father who was a freemason and friend of Ivan’s father. Roger came from a humble back ground in Mile End London, Roger went to work for Ivan soon after.
Ivan was 20 years old at the time, Roger was his apprentice for approximately 2/3 years. It was in the salon that Roger first meet his wife Shirley as Ivan was dating her sister Rita (now Mrs. Joshua Galvin).
Roger was a very quite young man, tall good looking, the clients loved him. He was very methodical in his work; he learnt the trade very quickly, by putting an enormous amount of time and effort into his training whilst with Ivan.
The team at the salon at this time consisted of some great hairdressers that went on to be very successful, including Michael Orchant, Allan Kalfin then Glemby Vice president training, Gabrielle Paretti, Spencer Simons, Anthony Stoller and a colorist called Kim who finished up in the Leighton salon in Hampstead.
In 1960 Ivan opened his second salon on the Edgware road 500 yards from Marble Arch and Roger relocated with him. The salon buzzed with the music of “Nat King Cole and Sinatra” the stylists created great styles for many of the London top celebrities of that period. Amongst the salon clients were Joan Collins, Barbara Windsor, LuLu, Mike and Bernie Winters and there wives, Des O’Conner and his wife, Jimmy Hendrix, Cat Stephens, Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davies, David Frost and his girlfriend, Ivan also prepared the hair for the Miss World Competition for many years.
Roger was very popular with the ladies and really enjoyed his time with Ivan. In 1962 he moved to join Vidal Sassoon to further his hairdressing education. Some years later he would be re-united with Allan Kalfin as he headed up the training team for Glemby International.
Ivan was in New York in 1987 and called Roger to say hi, he came to meet Ivan at the Waldorf Astoria hotel and paid him the most enormous compliment by saying that even though he had become a recluse and never socialized with anyone. Roger came out for Ivan because he felt that he was the greatest hairdresser he had ever worked with, and that he had taught him so much in his early years about life and work in the beginnings of his hairdressing career.
I had spent some nine years working side by side Vidal in Romaine of Park West and then in Dumas in Albemarle Street. When Vidal opened up at the top of Bond street I was a very frequent visitor as we were close chums, his salon was always open to me so I do remember Roger in his early years at the salons of Sassoon. This tall handsome young man quite very slim in the Bond street Salon. I used to stand behind him and "vardera", at that time the word "vardera" was a looker and lerner!!! Their were many of these in the salon for many years until the VS school was opened and then one paid for the training and worth every penny that parents would pay for the kids.
My visit's to Bond street and Grosvenor house I do remember the young guys that became hairdressing icons of there time, Roger, Leonard Lewis, Raphael who became-Raphael & Leonard, Stephen Way, Christopher Brooker, Maria, Christopher Pluck, Tony Beckerman, Keith Taylor-Sharp, Lawrence the tinter and Annie Humphries and many more that names I cannot remember. There were so many that became stars in that era, such talent that Vidal schooled then.
Roger stood out to me as I remember he was my twin born early in November ( 5th? I am 4th and a few years earlier than I). Time passed on when he went onto New York to work in the VS Madison Avenue salon that I also frequented often, whenever I was in NY for Seligman & Latz or other commercial trips for Milton Barrie for my brush designs and swim wigs.
Roger left to open up his own salon off Madison Ave, cannot remember the street, he had this unusual small boutique salon, cant remember what floor or street location it was on. I do remember it was high up. I thought “how can one have a salon and get to be known in this hub of NY. It was so unlike anything in London that I was used too, a salon with a shop front. He had another person working with him that had a great head of red head of hair, cant remember his name! Whenever I stood by watching Roger work and create I was often staggered by his approach to his client. Often I heard him say, “sorry madam” you need to come back in three months time when your hair has grown, then I can put my mark on your hair, He continued to have this wonderful approach to a haircut. Their were no other young hairdresser that had the pluck to say this to a client!
In between all of these years I do remember again that he came to London to work as a Consultant Creative director for Glemby Int when I was with them around 1978, to 1980. At about this time roger came to London on a regular basis to advise and train the Gerard Austin salon in Berkley Square.
Being in his class being re-taught in his medium was not to easy for me as I had made my mark in the industry (I was also a consultant to Glemby at this time) Donald McIntosh Gino Magnifesta, Garren DeFazio a husband & wife team that went on to Australia. Glemby (NAMES Gino might remember) had many lessons that Roger taught on his trips to London and then the big trip came up, we all went to Las Vegas for Glemby. A weeks training with the rest of the world of Glemby's top brass saw Roger do his new hair cuts for the training programe. Mr. Seymour and Nathan Finkelstein presented Roger with the ‘Hands’ sculpture that Roger had showed me in NY that he had carved out in wood. This time they were in Bronze presentation to him, his tears ran down his cheeks. What a surprises and thrill this was to the week’s work on the last night that most of us got drunk and disorderly.
Some year's on when Maxine and I were in NY for Paul Mitchell was in NY it was at Barney’s the major store that next saw him, this time I was in NY with Maxine for our Paul Mitchell business and to visit with George Michael the long haired guru also on Madison Avenue. We all went out for a meal with his wife Shirley and beautiful daughter (NAME). This could have been around 1990/2
Roger was one of the most creative hair cutter's I had ever worked with or had witnessed cutting hair, the way he composed his style and created his hair and cuts, all were one off’s. His feel for hair was magic a treasure to watch him work. He truly was a one off, a Picasso a Renoir. He taught few that really understood what they learnt from him, now they try to figure out the Why’s and What if’s!
His style of work has been lost in space in my belief
Read my book “From Salon to Celebrity” page 166-169, my words I wrote on Roger Thompson his work still stands the test of time and looks so good in 2009-No mousse-no Gel-No spray- Just a Hair cut by the master- Roger Thompson.
Ivan Sherman now lives on Singer Island Florida and has his salon in Palm Beach
Harold Leighton now lives in Boca Raton Florida and is Creative Director to Keratin Complex
Harold Leighton & Ivan Sherman© 2009