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.
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.
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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.
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