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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  • 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

  • Chanel A/W 2O13 Campaign

    Chanel’s new ad campaign sees the return of a much-loved format: photographer, Karl Lagerfeld; hair stylist, Sam McKnight; make-up artist, Peter Philips; stylist, Carine Roitfeld. So what’s new? Her name is Ashleigh Good, the tough and androgynous model from New Zealand (alongside models Chiharu Okunugi and Soo Joo Park), who has been catapulted to high-fashion fame after her first appearance at Givenchy last season and who is Karl’s new muse. In keeping with the space age theme of the collection (remember the silver globe the models march around at the show in Paris?), Karl wanted the hair to be straight and to float, but, as Sam explains, the finished look came about by way of happenstance: “I was straightening out Ashleigh’s hair, and then half way through the finished look, when it was straight like a board and jutting out at an 45 degree angle, Carine stopped me and said she loved it just like that. It worked perfectly to have blunt, un-brushed texture and high shine to fit the futurised theme”. Sam used Sebastian Professional’s Forte Hairspray before running over the hair with a GHD eclipse styler. This is the new way to wear hair straight, people. It’s straight but it’s got volume. What’s not to love?

    To see the whole shoot click here

  • CHANEL HAUTE COUTURE A/W ’13

    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 here
    See the full show and read the review on Style.com here
    Watch the video from the show here
  • AGELESS STYLE

    July. The month that British Vogue always dedicates to its ‘Ageless Issue’, a celebration of all manner of things, no matter what their age is. This year, editor-in-chief, Alexandra Shulman, chose the resplendent Helena Bonham Carter as her cover star, and Sam was behind-the-scenes on the day of the shoot to coif her hair. Shot by Mert & Marcus and styled by Fashion Direction Lucinda Chambers, Sam describes, “Helena was really such a delight and so up for trying new things for this shoot. I tied her hair up in a boyish, side-parted chignon that was prepped with Pantene Volume & Body Mousse before being smoothed over with the new ghd eclipse styler and twisted up”. Pure, timeless perfection.

    To see the all the images from the story, click here