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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    ICEBERG S/S 2013

    Iceberg has the hippie, rock chick look down to a tea and this season was no exception.
    Feeling that there was a lot of colour and print in the collection, Sam wanted the hair to stay true to the identity of the ‘Iceberg’ girl, whilst keeping the look luxe and chic. He created a look that was simple, classic and Nineties, but with a contemporary twist. On clean hair, Sam created crisp middle partings and instead of twisting the lengths into chignons or a low ponytail, hair was tied at the nape of the neck and then rolled back on itself before being secured into a loop-the-loop with black elastic. Seeing as the Sixties are proving to be so in vogue this season, why not do the twist and try this for yourself?
    See the collection on Vogue.com here.
    Read what Elle UK thought of the look here.
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    MOSCHINO S/S 2013

    Moschino paid homage to the Sixties for Spring/Summer ’13, meaning that the trend, which has popped up in New York, London and now Milan, is gaining some serious momentum.
    The show’s stylist and Vogue Nippon Editor-at-Large, Anna dello Russo, wanted the beauty look to be synonymous with the collection, so following her directive Sam and his team arrived bright and early for the 5.30am call-time to tease and backcomb the 33 models’ hair into side-swept, half-up, half-down chignons. Prepping hair with Pantene’s Ultra Strong Mousse, Sam then backcombed hair with earnest, before pinning and sealing the whole look with a generous amount of Pantene Ultra Strong Hairspray.
    The hair was very big, very Sixties, a little bit Lana del Rey and a lot Raquel Welch. They say the higher the hair the closer to heaven… Today, the Moschino girls were just heavenly.
    See the look on vogue.com here.
    Read about a day in the life of Milan Fashion Week with UK Marie Claire.
    Read the backstage report from Style.com’s Beauty Counter blog.
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    MULBERRY S/S 2013

    You can always expect something good from the hair (as with the whole collection) at the Mulberry show, no matter the season. Forever pretty and wearable, it’s always a quintessentially British style that real women will want to recreate.
    This season, Sam created a variation on the braided theme that he has been developing for some seasons now, offering messy, falling out chignons, all of which had one plait woven in about half-way back towards the crown – where a headband would sit. The beachy texture and braid added a modern and cool touch to this classic style. As the winter season fast approaches, the braid/ chignon combination is the perfect way to control unruly locks, that can be prone to rain-induced frizziness, then, of course, come next summer the style will work just as well.
    Disclaimer: Sam did not coiff the hair of the giant poodle that also sauntered down the catwalk…
    Read the show review on Vogue.com
    See Elle UK’s views on Sam’s work at Mulberry here
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    LOUISE GRAY S/S 2013

    There was a massive back-combing frenzy backstage at Louise Gray in the Topshop venue in London’s Bedford Square. In what was a tongue-in-cheek take on ‘good girls, gone bad’, the collection was themed around punk, the Eighties and LA rockabillies.
    As a result, Sam and his team teased hair into prim but unproper, nest-like updo’s. Sure, the basis of the look was the classic chignon, but to nod to the ‘bad girl’ that Louise briefed Sam on, the look was pulled out, collapsed, mussed-up, lopsided and each one was slightly different. It was chic, but almost accidental. Atop of the crazy ‘dos were off-the-wall hat creations by amazing milliner, Stephen Jones, that included cut-out bows and speech bubbles,
    These ladies have fallen from grace…. But, boy, do they look good.
    See what the Topshop team had to say about the look here.
    What did the Elle Beauty Team think of the look? Read all about it here.
    See the full show collection on Vogue.com
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    MOSCHINO CHEAP & CHIC S/S 2013

    Imagine being in Africa in the Seventies, but with a little bit of East London thrown in for good measure – that was the inspiration behind the hair style Sam was creating backstage at Moschino Cheap & Chic. For the second season, Moschino is showing in Sam’s hometown and again is one of the hot tickets of London Fashion Week.
    To play up to the super chic Seventies safari theme, Sam was creating a voluminous, fluffy, aerated look. Hair was set into a low side-parting before Pantene Pro-V Classic Care Mousse was combed through from root to tip to create a pliable base for the small braids that were then added by Sam and his team to create a soft crimped effect. To speed up the setting process, the braids were clamped with flat irons, but to recreate this at home, braid hair when damp and sleep on it! Once the braids had set, they were brushed out and hair was left to its own devices. There was strictly no hairspray applied past this point to encourage movement and wispy flyways. Easy, breezy, Moschino C&C
    See what the girls at BeautyMART had to say about Sam’s look here.
    Read the show review on Vogue.com here.
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    CLEMENTS RIBEIRO S/S 2013

    For the Clements Ribeiro show in London this weekend, the reference was Suzy Bishop (played by teenage star Kara Hayward) from Wes Anderson’s romantic movie Moonrise Kingdom. The result was a soft, faux-bob pulled up off the face with two clear plastic hair slides.
    To create the look, Sam braided away sections of the models’ hair to take away thickness, so that it was easier to pin up. The lengths were then wrapped around these hand-made hair ‘sausages’ which acted as supportive stuffing to the style. With an abundance of hair grips, the bobs were anchored in the ‘sausage’, before the Goody slides were added, creating a side sweep that had an aura of the Thirties era about it. Accessorised with aqua blue eyes or retro-style sunglasses, this was a style that was girly, cute and effortlessly stylish.
    See Sam’s guest blogging for Vogue.com here.
    See the Clements Ribeiro collection here.
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    London 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony

    At the London 2012 Olympic closing ceremonies British designers were showcased by nine of its top models Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Stella Tennant, Karen Elson, Lily Donaldson, Lily Cole, Georgia May Jagger, Jourdan Dunn and David Gandy all wore clothes by top British designers Alexander McQueen, Vivien Westwood, Jonathan Saunders, Stephen Jones, Burberry, Victoria Beckham, Christopher Kane, Paul Smith and Erdem.

    I wanted to create hairstyles for each individual model that were glamorous, modern and powerful and be able to stand up to the unpredictable London weather.

    I’ve known Kate, Naomi and Karen since they were teenagers and I’ve worked with Vogue Fashion Director Lucinda Chambers and Make up artist Val Garland for many years so there was a great family atmosphere back stage. The moment the supermodels graced the world stage was fantastic, with each model transported into the arena behind a huge billboard of themselves shot by Nick Knight and featured in the September issue of British Vogue. It has bean a fantastic Olympics and I was honoured to be asked to be a part of the British Vogue section.

    View Vogue’s closing ceremony gallery here.
    View Vogue’s Olympic fashion shoot gallery here.
    View Sam Mcknight’s magic backstage at the closing ceremony here.

  • Chanel Sam Mcknight

    Chanel Couture A/W 2012

    For Chanel’s A/W 2012 show, Karl Lagerfeld decorated the Paris’ Grand Palais as if his guests were encased within an indoor garden party; teaming wickers chairs, plates of macarons and Camellia bushes with a beautiful ceiling that had been painted to look like the sky.

    The ‘New Vintage’ theme saw beautiful kaftans, floor length gowns and updated takes on Coco Chanel’s classic tweeds hit the runway and the hair and makeup followed suit.

    For the makeup, Peter Philips included a swash of silver/blue eyeshadow and a modern, blockier take on a 60’s liner above and below the eye and complemented this with a rosy cheek.

    For the hair, Sam opted for a modern and cool style; placing each model’s hair within specially crafted ‘snoods’ – delicately knitted nets in black, soft pink and white with beaded embroidery and sequins, that were placed over hair that had been rolled and smoothed under at the nape of the neck. At the front, the models’ hair was then placed in a centre parting and left natural and loose around the face, so that it moved as they walked.

    For the finale, Sam created something much more dramatic for Lindsey Wixson (who walked the runway in an extravagant white, high necked tweed and feather wedding gown) piling her hair high on her head in twists and embellishing it with feathered Camellia flowers, akin to those that adorned the dress and decorated the venue.

    See the full collection at here.

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    Chanel Cruise 2012-13 Collection

    Sam and the team travelled to the latest venue for Chanel’s Cruise show for 2012-13; the impressive and sunny grounds of the Palace of Versailles on the outskirts of Paris.

    Karl Lagerfeld described this latest Cruise Collection to WWD.com on the day: “It’s Coco rock, not rococo. It’s serious revolt. It’s not at all 18th century. It’s very rock. You can hardly recognise the girls.”

    Sam opted for two contrasting styles in one for the hair in order to, as he put it, “take the punk rebel, over-the-top attitude of Marie Antoinette into the future”.

    The hairstyles were almost worn as hats themselves with savage cut, bob-top wigs laid over low ponytails – all of which had to be pre-dyed by hand and individually cut in shades of black and faded, dusty pink, grey lavender, pistachio green and blonde with standout roots to ensure that each wig was bespoke and unique to the model. Each model’s ponytail was then adorned with a huge pastel or black satin and tulle bow below the faded cut bob-tops to achieve the futuristic Antoinette appeal that Karl and Sam had envisaged.

    Read more about the show and see the full collection here.


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    Chanel A/W 2012

    Karl’s collection was a layered look with clean lines and architectural proportions.  There was a lot going on with a feast of colour and texture, and crystal and gemstone embellishment, so in contrast the hair was slicked straight back and pulled into shiny straight ponytails – strong and sexy, it was aerodynamic hair.

    See the runway shots at Vogue.com
    See the show video