On June 15, 2005 renowned celebrity hairstylist and salon owner John Sahag, 52, lost his three-year
battle with cancer. While Sahag may be gone, his legacy of an industry rock star with a big heart still
lives on.
John was born in Beirut, and spent most of his childhood in Australia, where his couturier father Atum
had moved his family after the Civil War broke out in 1958.
Sahag got his start in hairstyling at the tender age of 14, when his work was highlighted in a major
editorial feature in The Sydney Morning Herald. At 18, John moved to Paris and began to build his
career. Almost immediately after moving, he scored an editorial credit in Italian Vogue, and worked with
top fashion photographers including Richard Avedon, Patrick Demarchelier, Helmut Newton, Irving Penn
and Albert Watson.
In 1985, he ventured to New York and opened his signature salon, The John Sahag Workshop. It was in
this very salon where he developed his legendary “dry-cut” method of haircutting: a meticulous strand-
by-strand shaping technique. The practice, John claimed, allowed him to see exactly how hair fell, which
would then yield more precise cuts.
Hailed as a beauty icon, a heartthrob hairdresser and the “Mick Jagger of hair” by Annemaria Iverson,
former beauty and fashion news director at Harper’s Bazaar, John left an enormous impression not only
on the fashion and beauty industry, but on his family and close friends as well. Despite being a larger
than life legend in the beauty world, he led a rather unpretentious and modest home life.
His brother Hovan recounts John’s favourite pastime as playing cards and backgammon with his late
father and brothers over beers and classical music. John also loved to fish and explore the beaches
around Sydney.
His sister Mary recalls her brother’s love for Christmas and his love for his family, a sentiment echoed by
his niece Mayda Kahkedjian in a recent Facebook post: “My fondest memories of my Uncle John was the
excitement we all felt every Christmas, knowing he was visiting. This meant daily family BBQs, daily
family dinners, and sleepless nights for the few days he had to spend there. The whole family would
sleep at my grandparent’s house so we could spend every second we had with John. My grandmother
would make and prepare for days John’s favourite meals. Most of all, my memories of my Uncle John
was the love he had for me, and my sisters, and the whole family.”
After his death, fellow hairstyling legend Albie Mulcahy also recalled Sahag as an industry giant, mentor,
icon, and a brother. “The saying ‘love is never having to say you’re sorry’ held true for both of us.
Brothers may clash, but we always had each other’s back no matter what, be it on stage or personal.”

“Besides a best friend, I was like an older brother or confidant for John,” reminisces Dwight Miller. “John
would call me when I was in the city, we would have dinner, and spend quality time. No one was more
generous than John, but get into a back gammon game with him and it was blood.”
The last time Miller saw John was at the Loft, where his sister Mary looked after him and cooked his
favourite Armenian food. Miller was president of John’s product company at the time, but only until
John was fully recovered.
“We talked for a while and he had fallen asleep. When he woke, he apologized that he (slept) while I
was there. I said that I had taken a nap too, and we had a laugh. When John walked me to the door, I
sadly knew it was for the last time.”

Image Credits:

1.From the book “You should have been with me.” Photo: Stan Shaffer

2.With Isabella Rosselinni. Photo: Denis Piel

3.With Model Beth Rupert. Photo: Denis Piel

4.Photo: Lawrence Ivy