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.

SHOWstudio - Sam McKnight Interview

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Design & Production by M/A
News Editor Jessica Hogan

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    CHANEL A/W 2013

    It’s a wonderful, wonderful world. Especially when you’re in the world of Karl Lagerfeld for his Ready-To-Wear Chanel show, watching models walk around a giant, glittering globe in Paris’s Grand Palais. As usual, Sam was part of the backstage beauty team, creating the hair look for the iconic show. Working alongside make-up artist Peter Philips, the collection dictated the beauty, inspiring lashes and eyelids being sprinkled with gold glitter to mirror the metallic threads that ran throughout the collection and chain chokers acting as the graphic accents to models’ “done but undone” hair . With lengths being tucked into these necklaces (and then again into shirts, scarves and collars), the detail lay in the definite centre parting and mirror-like shine that came from the model’s poker straight hair. Autumn/Winter ’13, it’s a wrap!

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    WESTWOOD GOLD A/W 2013

    “Vivienne knew straight away how she wanted the hair to look for the show”, explained Sam, “she is such a visionary, she has no fear to do anything”. Accordingly, he created what he called “plastic plaits”, weaving in plastic garment bags from her store into braided hairstyles inspired by the medieval crusades theme of the collection. To get the plastic to stay, it was imperative that the style had hold, so he treated hair to a coating of Pantene Volume and Body Mousse, so that it had extra bite. Make-up artist Val Garland also took her cue from the middle ages, and recreated “medieval madness” in full colour on the face. In true Westwood style, it was a ‘no holds barred’ approach to beauty. Speaking of the look, Sam mused, “it looks great – everyone loved the idea straight away”. With bag braids and painted faces, what’s not to love?

    See the official backstage video here

    See Elle UK’s backstage beauty review here

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    Balmain A/W 2013

    Oh, to be a Balmain girl… Embellished, glitzy and irresistibly chic. This season, the collection was more high-octane than ever, with a strong 80s influence, resulting in metallic brocade, big shoulders and power silhouette shapes. The constant? Sam’s usual “just there, nothing kind of hair”, but with a ramped up twist in the form of a slicked back masculine makeover. This girl is a rock and roll rich bitch and she’s not afraid to show it.

    See the show on Vogue.co.uk here
    Read the backstage review on Style.com’s Beauty Counter Blog here

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    Mugler A/W 2013

    All aboard for the latest instalment of the Mugler show, inspired by the sophistication of air travel in the Sixties (fashion trivia: did you know that designer Nicola Formicetti’s mother was an air hostess and one of his muses?). Taking Nicola’s cue, Sam created a rounded, aerodynamic-shaped dome on the head to echo the shape of the hats and hoods in the collection, which was fittingly shown in an industrial hangar-like space. As an added bonus, music maestro Michel Gaubert created a soundtrack of jets taking off. Next destination? Balmain.

    Watch the official video of the show here

    Read the show review on Style.com here

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    DSquared2 A/W 2013

    Hats off to DSquared2 for bringing Milan fashion week back in time with Forties, Jazz-inspired show. With models looking like they were fresh out of Bugsey Malone, eyes were treated to metallic bronze cream shadow courtesy of make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury, whilst Sam created similarly glossy hair which was swooped up into a sleek ponytail, and tied just in the middle of the head (the base of the pony was wrapped with a single piece of hair for a chic alternative on a hair band) to allow for one of the collections’ head pieces to sit perfectly on top. And all that jazz…
    See Sam’s guest blog on Vogue.co.uk here
    Read the review and view the collection on Style.com here
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    Iceberg A/W 2013

    Another show, another ponytail. The first one at DSquared2 was sleek, glossy and transported us to the Forties, but this time at iceberg, Sam opted for a side-swept, mussed-up version with attitude. Inspired by the bright pop colours, exaggerated shapes, chunky knits and cool leather trousers in the collection, Sam explained that he wanted to create “minimal, youthful, textured ponies to give the girls a cool air of nonchalance”. Who doesn’t want to be this girl?
    Read the show review on Vogue.co.uk here
    See more pictures from backstage on Elle.com here
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    Fendi A/W 2013

    The punk trend has carried over into Milan and with Fendi never failing to deliver when it comes to fashion theatrics, this season’s punk rockers were absolutely no exception. Sam’s “braided mohawks” were accented with coloured fox fur headpieces designed by Karl Lagerfeld to add a graphic element to the 3-D French braid that “ran like a seam down the centre of the head”. Teamed with deep purple-stained lips, the creations of make-up artist Peter Philips, London punk has truly come to Milan.

    See Sam’s backstage blog for Vogue.co.uk here
    See the full collection on Style.com here

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    Paul Smith A/W 2013

    Paul Smith is one of the pillars of the British Fashion industry, and so the beauty look needs to sum up quintessential British style. Cue low side-parting, mussed-up texture and effortlessly cool attitude. To achieve the look, Sam prepped models’ hair with a medium hold styling mousse, and then lightly tonged the lengths of hair with large barrelled tongs for undone, loose waves. Do try this look at home.

    See the complete fashion looks on Style.com here
    Read the show review on Vogue.co.uk here

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    L’Wren Scott A/W 2013

    For the L’Wren Scott show in London, Sam was reunited with his friend Bobbi Brown, both of whom began their careers in New York in the Eighties. For the show, Bobbi created a natural, fresh-faced make-up look, whilst Sam whipped-up, aerated, brushed out-curls in the style of American Vogue Fashion Editor, Grace Coddington. Piling on wigs and wefts, volume was key here, but to keep the look sophisticated, hair was pulled back off the face and decorated with a Stephen Jones head piece. Seventies style is back in full effect!

    See the show on Vogue.co.uk here
    See the backstage beauty report on Harpers Bazaar here

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    Clements Ribeiro A/W 2013

    Sam has worked with the team from Clements Ribeiro for many seasons now, so he knows instinctively what designers Inacio and Suzanne want from the hair for their show. “They loved the small head shape last season, when we created short, boyish bobs”, Sam explains, “so for this season we kept that same illusion, which is young, fresh and easy”. To that end, hair was twisted up into chignons that were flat at the back, bringing the ends of the hair forward to be used as a choppy faux-fringe. Combined with the graphic prints in the collection, and bold metallic eyes by make-up artist Sarah Lucero, the look is cool, strong and still very feminine.

    See Sam’s guest blog for Vogue.co.uk here
    Watch the entire show on London Fashion Week’s official You Tube Channel here