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.
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.
Balmain, the original Parisian purveyor of cool, is not one for change. In a perfect example of the phrase, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, the fashion house exemplified their signature cool and effortless style as their unveiled their latest collection in the fashion capital. “This is the ultimate up-do”, declared Sam. “It’s the Balmain girl at her glorious, glowing, natural best. Georgia May, Rosie, Karlie et al are all without embellishment, whilst their clothes have extreme embellishment – it’s the perfect balance”. Sam’s was creating a style which had natural texture to it, that was made to look just that little bit less clean with a tiny amount of his season staple, Magic Move pomade, worked into the mid-lengths and ends. Easy, breezy, Balmain.
See Sam’s picture diary from Paris Fashion Week on Vogue.co.uk here.
See the backstage beauty report and full catwalk collection on Style.com here.
When make-up artist Peter Philips and Sam come together, good things happen. Case in point: Dries Van Noten (and, of course, not forgetting Chanel). For Spring/Summer ’14 Peter and Sam were working in perfect symmetry, lacing 24kt gold foil through the lashes and into the side parting of the hair. Both taking their cue from Dries, who had a very clear vision that he wanted gold as part of the beauty look, Sam decided to keep the rest of the hair product free, clean and simple to allow the gold stripe to do its thing. After all, the devil lays in the detail.
See Allure’s backstage report here.
See the Dries collection in all its glory here.
With a collection themed ‘Fashion Victims’, it was clear from the offset that the Spring/Summer ’14 show for Moschino, which celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Italian fashion house, was always going to be a fashion spectacular. With iconic women walking the catwalk such as Erin O’Connor, Pat Cleveland, and Alek Wek, Sam was creating two distinct hair looks backstage. The first, the “Good Girls”, featuring two angelic plaits wrapped around the head. Then there were the “Bad Girls”, who, as the name might suggest, sported a harder, more graphic look with a slicked down bun and a low side parting. Make-up artist Tom Pecheux painted models’ faces accordinlgy depending on which ‘girl’ they were: ethereal complexions for the good, and devlish eyeliner for the bad. Which girl are you?
See Stylist’s backstage report on the beauty look here.
See the whole catwalk show on Style.com here.
Another show, another inspiration for a new set of wigs. Following straight on from L’Wren Scott in London, Sam created these short black wigs for the Fendi show in Milan for Karl Lagerfeld. Speaking of the look, Sam said, ” as he always does before a show, Karl sent me a sketch of a very graphic black hairstyle, which was his idea for the new season. We tried various shapes, sizes, even adding colour. But after many incarnations, a short, boyish black choppy fringed mop was deemed the one! I thought of it as Linda Evangelist meets Rei Kawakubo meets the Beatles. The black hair was the opposite of the bright airy collection, and punctuated it perfectly”. Tied in with the electric coral lips by make-up maestro Peter Philips, it was the perfect incarnation of a modern day woman.
See’s Sam’s Milan photo diary for Vogue.co.uk here
View the entire collection here
After drenching hair in ‘gritty’ texturiser backstage at Mulberry, Sam dashed straight onto the L’Wren Scott show at London’s beautifully minimalist Gagosian gallery. All the hard work had been done in the weeks before, with him and his team carefully preparing jet-black ‘Japanese Geisha-inspired’ wigs for all the models. Cut before the show into super-short bobs, each with a shallow fringe, they worked perfectly with the painterly silk kimonos and obis that featured in the collection. Completing the beauty look were the red stained lips and purple-flushed eyelids, the creation of iconic make-up artist Bobbi Brown, who was in town just for that show. The result? A fashion week masterpiece worthy of such a fitting venue.
See Harpers Bazaar’s review of the beauty look here
See the complete collection on Style.com here
“Gritty” was the word of the day for the hair look backstage at Mulberry for Spring/Summer ’14. In a bit of a tougher take on the Mulberry girl as seen in previous seasons, the brief from designer Emma Hill for her last collection at the fashion house, was to give the beauty a bit of an edge. Accordingly, Sam doused models’ hair in Federick Fekkai Sea Salt Texturiser root to tip, “to add weight and heaviness” and then worked Magic Move Texturiser into the ends of the hair “for added texutre and separation”. The key piece of detail? An extra low, boyish side parting that worked well with the collection’s mannish tailoring and focus on leather. Meanwhile, make-up artist Mathias Van Hoof gave eyelids a wash of gloss, eyelashes seams of black eyeliner, and generous coats of mascara too. Totally British. Totally cool.
Read Style.com’s review and see the collection here
See the Telegraph’s backstage special on the show here
See extra content and videos from the show on Mulberry’s official website
Rose gold is having a resurrection for Spring/Summer ’14, with Marios Schwab lacing the colour throughout his collection and also heroing the precious metal up on the face, in the hair and painted on the nails. Make-up artist Val Garland worked to contour and highlight the face with the metallic sheen, and nail technician Marian Newman swept swooshes of rose gold varnish on models’ hands and feet, whilst Sam used a concave rose gold barrette to hold together the loose fold he was weaving into the hair. He wanted the hair to be “strong, smooth and silky” and was inspired by a picture of Greta Garbo that Marios showed him in the test. To create the look, he first smoothed hair with ghd’s Eclipse irons, then took three sections of hair, as if starting to do a braid, but then instead of tightening it, laid each section flat across one another, before sealing the style with one of the designer’s barrette for an architectural finish. If silhouettes are Marios’s strong point, the hair couldn’t be more of a compliment.
See the full collection on Vogue.co.uk and read the review here
The theatre that is fashion was brought to life this week for Chanel’s Haute Couture show, that saw Paris’ Grand Palais transformed into a dilapidated, old theatre. But don’t let the rubble fool you. This venue was to set the stage – quite literally – for Karl Lagerfeld’s latest show-stopping collection for Chanel. Comprised of glittering tweeds, thigh high suede boots, and the new staple for the season, nail rings, this show was as decadent as you would expect. Gravity-defying hats and sparkling headbands sat perched on the back of models’ heads to make way for the flat-top hairstyles constructed by Sam and his team. Working closely with Karl on the concept, Sam explained, “Karl sketched a strong, structured shape for the hair, which I used as my template. My interpretation was, from the front, a square flat top-rockabilly-Grace Jones-meets-Eighteenth Century hybrid that incorporated a natural-texture pony in the back”. Sam prepped hair using Oribe’s Dry Texturising Spray, before smoothing over (but not totally straightening it) with the new GHD Eclipse. To hold the rolled hair on top, Sam finished with a liberal misting of Pantene Classic Hold Hairspray.Read Sam’s Blog on Vogue.com hereSee the full show and read the review on Style.com hereWatch the video from the show here