Sam McKnight is one of the most accomplished and well-respected hair stylists of his generation. His name is synonymous with modern, sexy hair - whether it's in magazines, on the runway or the red carpet.
He's won countless awards but perhaps the biggest accolade is the longstanding creative collaborations he has maintained with some of the best names in the business - Patrick Demarchelier, Nick Knight and Mario Testino; Karl Lagerfeld/Chanel, Vivenne Westwood, Balmain and Fendi to name just a few.
In the fleeting world of fashin imagery Sam's permanence is fixed in some of the most iconic images in modern history - Princess Diana's short, slicked back style, Agyness Deyn's bleached blonde crop, Madonna's Bedtime Stories cover, Cate Blanchett getting her Oscar, Tilda Swinton channelling Bowie, both Lady Gaga and her male alter-ego Jo Calderone plus countless covers and editorial stories of Kate Moss and all the supermodels.
The longevity of Sam's carrer career - over 30 years - provides a fantastic back-catalogue of references to bring to his work and it is this and his search for the new that keeps him so in demand.
Amongst all the drama and theatre that is often associated with Haute Couture fashion week, Karl Lagerfeld continued to push boundaries to produce a fashion show that not only incorporated a live band, bum bags, shin pads and corseted waistlines, but in addition, not one model was in a high heel. Each girl had her own pair of Chanel trainers to match what she was wearing (we defy you to not want a pair for the new season). Teamed with intergalactic crystallised liner by Peter Philips on the underside of the eye (another out-of-the-ordinary decision to the usual lining of upper lashes)it was, all-in-all a rule-breaking show. Sam’s hair was equally reinventing the wheel, with spikes of hair forming a graphic halo around the head, and then 10 girls with just wet-look gelled back hair: ”When I saw the trainers, I knew I wanted to put hair up in a sporty but graphic way – so we sewed spikes of hair onto hairbands and teamed with a couple of wound around braids”See the video of the show hereSee the each look on Style.com hereRead about the show on Vogue.co.uk hereSee Sam’s exclusive blog images on Vogue.co.uk here
Chanel’s Metiers d’Art collection showcased in Dallas wasn’t just the unveiling of the new collection. It was also the big reveal for Karl Lagerfeld’s first film, ‘The Return’, which details Coco Chanel’s comeback to fashion after not being so well received in Paris, but being well received in the Americas in the 50s. The film stars Geraldine Chaplain as Coco herself and Amanda Harlech as US Vogue editor Bettina Ballard. But one of the surprise roles was Sam, who played the British majordome (butler) that Coco wanted to marry for companionship. Speaking of the role, Sam said, “it was incredibly fun… But let’s just say I am not giving up the day job”.
See Sam’s on screen debut and the full film of ‘The Return’ here
The Chanel Metiers d’Arts show is always a fashion ‘moment’ and last year’s show in Scotland’s Linlithgow Palace is certainly a tough act to follow – but Dallas, Texas, did not disappoint. Chosen by Karl for the reason that Coco Chanel had a long affiliation with the state after she was awarded the Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion Award by Neiman Marcus in 1957, it was perfectly fitting that he should be presented the same award – for the second time – the day after the show. The collection, set in a reconstruction of a traditional rodeo, was a celebration of the deep South: tassels, feathers, cowboy hats, boots and shirts, Navajo prints with references to Native American Indians and, of course, the Wild West. For hair, Sam was inspired by spaghetti Western movies and created a “modern cowgirl” look, which involved a bow made out of extensions tied low and loose onto a thick ponytail. “Karl sent a sketch before the show saying he wanted a bow to feature in the hair”, said Sam backstage. “It’s Western-inspired but to make it modern, we made the bows out of hair”. Texture was distinctly lived in. In the fitting the day before the show, Sam prepped models’ hair and then instructed them to sleep, and not wash it out.The next day, the day of the show, he then created an extra dusty texture with a misting of Oribe Dry Texturising Spray, also putting haphazard bends into lengths with GHD’s Eclipse iron, for and extra bit of dishevelling. Ornate extras included hand painted feathers and bejewelled clips attached to some girls’ ponytails, but artisanal touches also featured as part of make-up artist Peter Philips’s look, as he brushed gold and silver wet-look eyeshadows onto the temples to create a warrior-like effect that also resonated nuances of the fashion house’s signature tweed. They say that everything is bigger in Texas… It doesn’t quite get bigger – or better – than Metiers d’Art.
Read more about the show here
Read Lisa Armstrong’s review in the Telegraph
Read American Vogue’s review of the show
The December issue of Vogue sees another collaboration between Sam McKnight, Kate Moss and the British fashion bible. “I think I have done around 80 covers for British Vogue, around 20 of these are with Kate”, said Sam. “I’ve worked with Kate more than any other model or celebrity over the years and she has become a good friend. As well as being a great beauty and model with unparalleled versatility, Kate’s a great person to hang out with, so a shoot with her is always going to be memorable one”. See here his hand-picked absolute favourites.
Lady Diana’s Vogue shoot, a slab of meat on Lady Gaga’s head, a short blonde Evangelista crop, blue wigs at Chanel Couture… These are just a few of the hallmarks of Sam McKnight’s career heroed by Allure in their six-page retrospective on his life and work. In what was a different twist on the usual formula for a nostalgic feature, the editorial also included a newly commissioned story with model Hilary Rhoda, shot in New York by photographer Terry Tsiolis. “The last time we worked together was for the second issue of Allure over twenty years ago, so here we go again!”, said Sam. Read the full editorial in the gallery.
There is no sugar-coating it – Monday can often be the hardest day of the week to get back into the swing of things after the weekend. For those looking for inspiration for their beauty look for the week, American Vogue have commissioned a series of new videos, entitled ‘The Monday Makeover’, for their YouTube channel to provide food for thought. Featuring looks from various hair and beauty creatives including make-up artists Hannah Murray and Yadim, Sam was asked to contribute a series of hair looks to motivate. See here the first two videos show-casing a modern, mussed-up chignon and a romantic braid, taking the standard how-to video to a whole new level.
Subscribe to more Vogue videos here
Ever wanted to know what a life-sized bronze model of Kate Moss would look like? Look no further than this cover of Pop Magazine, featuring Kate in a sculpture created by iconic artist Allen Jones. She was photographed as part of a project for an auction at Christie’s, Kate Moss, From the Collection of Gert Elfering, a celebration of Kate being the ultimate modern muse. The auction raised over £1.5 million pounds in total, with this sculpture, A Model Model, reaching £133, 000 alone. Sam created the hair for this shoot, saying “it was shot in Allen’s home studio in Clerkenwell. He has been a hero of mine ever since I started, so I was thrilled to meet him and his wife and see some of his artwork at home”.
Read more about the auction on Vogue.com here
The season ended on a high for Sam at the behemoth show that is Chanel. Never one to disappoint, designer Karl Lagerfeld turned Paris’s Grand Palais into a giant art gallery for his Spring/Summer ’14 show. Part of the artistic vision were the blonde, brown and black wigs created by Sam (hot on the heels of his love affair with wigs in Milan at Fendi), no less than 80 masterpieces whose texture reflected that of a paintbrush. “All the winged bobs were sculpted and teased into a brushy texture, a surreal touch to Karl’s show”, explained Sam. The wigs, which took four days to create, were then cut and fit to each model’s head so that they perfectly suited each girl. Combined with Peter Philips’s colourful brush-stroke make up, it’s fair to say that this beauty look is a work of art.Watch the show here.Read Sam’s guest backstage blog from Chanel here.See Style.com’s backstage Beauty Counter blog here.See the collection on Style.com here.
Sam and make-up artist Christelle Croquet were causing a desert storm backstage at Emanuel Ungaro, inspired by the designer’s inspiration: a horse-riding girl from Arizona…. Who has found herself in Paris. Cue dusty, tousled hair that is low in volume, but big on texture. Sam wanted a “rough, lived-in” effect, and relied on his season staple Magic Move Balm to get just that effect. Meanwhile, Christelle buffed bronzer into models’ cheeks and smoked out eyes to enhanced the look. Dressed in the collection’s polka dots and prints, it’s fair to say the cowgirl has had the chicest of makeovers. Vive la France!See Ungaro in Glamour UK’s backstage beauty report here.View the fashion collection on Style.comSee Ungaro’s official S/S ’14 video here.
All rise for the new season offering from Vivienne Westwood during Paris Fashion Week, featuring sky-high hair courtesy of Sam and his team. Inspired by ancient Roman and Greek statues, Sam styled models’ hair by curling sections around ghd’s Eclipse flatiron for a corkscrew curl effect, before back brushing each model’s hair into a different variation on the same sculptural theme and fixing everything in place with generous amounts of Pantene’s Extra Strong Hairspray. Make-up artist Val Garland, added to the drama with splatters of dirt masquerading as freckles for a 70s “porn star effect”. What else to expect from Vivienne? Quite frankly, nothing any less fabulous.See Never Underdressed backstage review here.View the entire collection here.