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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  • DRIES VAN NOTEN S/S 2014

    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.

  • MOSCHINO S/S 2014

    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.

  • FENDI S/S 2014

    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

  • L’WREN SCOTT S/S 2014

    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

  • MULBERRY S/S 2014

    “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

  • MARIOS SCHWAB S/S 2014

    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

  • A MOST WANTED MAN

    Sam has been crowned ‘Session Stylist of the Year 2013’ by hair magazine,Creative Head’s, Most Wanted Awards. Set at the beautiful venue of The Natural History Museum, the awards are recognised as one of the most prestigious in the industry of hairdressing. With five hairdressers nominated in this category, the finalist is ultimately chosen and voted for by the industry’s top beauty editors, each choosing who they think is “the most exciting hair stylist working in fashion”. Speaking the morning after, Sam said, “It was such an honour to be recognised by the hairdressing industry and a great opportunity to see all the new young emerging talent too”.

    For more news on the night and to read about the other winners, see the Most Wanted site here

    See Vogue.com applaud Sam for his win here

  • Oh, Michelle

    This month sees Michelle Williams as the new face of Louis Vuitton in latest ad campaign for Autumn/Winter’s 2013-14 collection. Showcasing two new handbags – the W and the Capucines – the campaign was shot by the iconic Peter Lindbergh in London’s Spring Studios. With Sam McKnight on styling her hair, Nicola Clarke working on hair colour and Stephane Marias on make-up, the result was modern, sharp and super stylish. “Michelle was an absolute pleasure to work with”, says Sam. “She walked into the shoot and her hair was a bit longer. She told me she had just started to grow it out, but she let me cut it an inch without hesitation and I gave her a new shape – long at the front and short at the back. Nicola also worked to make it blonder. It was tombish but soft and feminine all at the same time.” Balanced against her rich, wine–stained mouth and dark, bold brows, Michelle’s look is the perfect exercise in ‘Punk Couture’, one of the most prolific trends from the Autumn/Winter runways.

    See the full campaign here

    See behind-the-scenes video from the shoot here

    Shop the collection here

  • SEPTEMBER ISSUE

    The all important September issues have hit the shops and standing out amongst them, is the new issue of British Vogue, with model Daria Werbowy, hair styled by Sam McKnight. Daria has been off the modelling scene for some time, but in her tell-all interview with Vogue‘s Features Director, Jo Ellison, she talks about the trials and tribulations of modelling and why she is making a comeback. Photographed by Patrick Demarchelier and styled by Vogue‘s Fashion Director, Lucinda Chambers, the shoot captures her rebellious style, of which her hair plays a great part. Speaking of the shoot on the day, Sam describes, “I hardly had to do a thing to her hair. She walked in looking great – so typically Daria – so I didn’t want to change much. I washed it, dried it upside down with ghd’s Air hairdryer and tonged the front section, just to give it a bit of an extra bend. I then worked some Magic Move texturising balm into the ends to smooth it out, but really I worked more on set, than in the hair and make-up room – just constantly moving and manipulating her hair to make it look its dishevelled best”. This is model-off duty hair, on-duty. Welcome back, Daria.

    See the full editorial here
    See more pictures of Daria in Vogue here

  • Summer Hair 101

    Gracing the cover of Allure magazine is Miss Moss, she with the most covetable of hair. What’s so good about her style is that it never looks dated, and is always modern and cool. But her style really comes into its own during the summer months when beachy texture is most wanted. How to get The Kate? Sam says: “This look is all about the prep work. Whether you blow-dry it or let it dry naturally, it’s always best to use a volumising product – I recommend Pantene Volume & Body Mousse. It will get volume into the roots and expand hair’s width”. Then onto the tongs: “With Kate we tend to use medium barrelled tongs from half-way down the hair – literally just pop the tongs in and out so it’s just a glance of heat, leaving the ends out so they are a bit straight”. The key to this look though, is that once the bulk of the hair is tonged, the front should be blow-dried flat so it’s very natural and organic looking. “This keeps it looking cooler and less done”, explains Sam. All that is needed to finish is a lighting misting of hairspray – you don’t want it to look too done – and there you have it – cool summer hair à la Kate.

    See Kate’s Allure Editorial for inspiration here