Cover of Bessone's autobiography "Raymond"
|Born||Raymondo Pietro Carlo Bessone
11 May 1911
Wardour Street, Soho, London, England
|Died||17 April 1992
Cause of death
|Other names||Mr Teasy-Weasy, Teasie Weasie Raymond, Raymond Raymond, Pierre Raymond Bessone|
Bessone was born 'Raimondo Pietro Carlo Bessone' at 61, Wardour Street, Soho, London, England of Italian and French parentage. He subsequently Anglicised his name, and legally changed it by deed poll, to Peter Carlo Bessone Raymond. His name is sometimes, but incorrectly, given as Pierre Raymond Bessone. He was married to the actress Rosalie Ashley. Bessone received the OBE in 1982. In 1979 his 28-year old pregnant daughter was killed when, returning from a family wedding, she crossed a damaged section of the M4 motorway guard rail and slammed into an oncoming Porsche. The two people in the Porsche, Bessone's daughter, her husband and two children, were all killed instantly in the horrific crash. (Several weeks after the accident it was discovered that the male passenger killed in the Porsche was Brian Field, who had changed his name to Brian Carleton and was one of the organizers of the Great Train Robbery (1963).)
Raymond Bessone died in Berkshire on 17 April 1992, aged 80.
Bessone began his career making false beards and moustaches in his father's barber shop. He subsequently opened his own salon in Mayfair, where he trained Vidal Sassoon. In 2010 Sassoon said of Bessone: "He really taught me how to cut hair ... I'd never have achieved what I have without him." Building on his first salon, Bessone developed a chain of highly fashionable salons in the West End. He later opened outlets in several major cities, including Birmingham.
Bessone was the first hairdresser to appear on television, and had his own show at Saturday teatime. Regarded as Britain's first celebrity hairdresser, he cultivated a faux French accent and a camp manner. Bessone liked to pace around his salon and, if a customer approached him, he would then exclaim with exasperation, "Madam, can you not see that I am meditating!" His Knightsbridge salon was replete with gilt mirrors, chandeliers, and champagne fountains.
In 1956 Bessone was flown to the United States by Diana Dors, for a shampoo and set, at a cost of £2,500 (£50,000 as of 2014). The stunt caused media controversy since, at that time, as a house could be bought for the same amount.
In 1957 Bessone launched the Shangri-La style, based on "the four principles of colour, line, youth and softness" and inspired by his view of Swiss mountain peaks after being knocked-out in a skiing accident.
Except for girls under 20, Bessone considered that women should avoid having long hair because he considered it ageing. He was also of the opinion that, except for women with very regular features, a central parting should be avoided.
Bessone was the part-owner of 1963 Grand National winner Ayala.
He was also part-owner of 1976 Grand National winner Rag Trade. Although Bessone had bought the gelding himself for 18,000 guineas, at a public auction at Doncaster, he later sold two 25% shares in the horse to businessmen William Lawrie and Herbert Keane. With trainer Arthur Pitt the horse ran the 1975 Grand National, only managing to complete the course. Under trainer Fred Rimell, the following year, the horse won both the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow and the Grand National at Aintree. Bessone had hoped for a third win in 1977.
Bessone was also mentioned in the Red Dwarf episode "Future Echoes".
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