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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News Editor Jessica Hogan

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    Chanel Haute Couture Spring/Summer ’13

    Welcome to the world of fantasy: the wonderful world of haute couture. Amidst the scene of an enchanted forest, Karl Lagerfeld showcased the next installation of Chanel Couture in Paris. With a 5.30am call-time and 53 models to get through, make-up was by Peter Philips, which involved beautifully intricate lace and net appliqués acting as eyeliner, set against porcelain skin. Hair by Sam, was a loose and undone chignon piled high up onto the head. “I had heard Karl mention A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the inspiration for his collection at the fitting”, says Sam. “And then once I had seen the forest set, I got totally inspired and knew immediately what I wanted to do. The hair was light and airy, deconstructed and whimsically falling out. It was toasty warm in the backstage area, but bitterly cold at the front of house, so the girls all huddled in the heat until the very last moment that they had to go out onto the runway”. They must have been dreaming of a midsummer’s night all the while…
    See more pictures from Sam on his guest blog on here.
    Read the review of the show in the Telegraph here.
    Watch the video of the show here.
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    The December issue of Spanish Vogue was a Mario Testino special, and so for this couture story he wanted Kate Moss to have a traditional Spanish look for hair, make-up and, of course, the clothes. Of styling Kate’s hair, Sam said, “we gave her a severe, oiled, braided hairstyle, decorated with antique Spanish combs, which super stylist Sarajane Hoare brought to the shoot”. Viva la España!

    Click here to see the pictures from the whole shoot.
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    Chanel Metiers d’Arts Pre-Fall 2013

    It has been described by Alexandra Shulman on as “magical” and the Vogue Editor-in-Chief even took to twitter to say how much she liked the hair. Chanel’s Pre-Fall 2013, Metiers d’Art collection in Edinburgh’s Linlithgow Palace has been a triumph. Inspired by Mary Queen of Scots (the show did take place in her birthplace after all), Karl’s collection fused tartan, tweed and theatre. For the hair, Sam created two looks, the first of which was homage to Queen Mary, on 18 girls. Hair was braided, frizzed, padded and pinned – a process which took an hour for each girl. The more simple second look for the rest of the girls was boyish braids, which were used to frame the face. All looks were piled with jewels, which were carefully planned the day before to make sure they sat perfectly in the style. Peter Philips, Global Creative Director of Chanel Make-up, framed eyes with double swooshes of black liner were set against velvety matte skin for a modern twist. Long live the Queen.

    See AnOther Magazine‘s interview with Sam on how he created the look.
    Take a look at Sam’s guest blog on about the show.
    Read’s review and see the images of the entire catwalk show here.

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    It’s  the Halloween witching hour! And grounded in London due to being unable to travel to New York for a shoot because of Hurricane Sandy, Sam chose to play dress up with Kate Moss for Halloween. Kate was in need for a gothic black wig to complement her amazing Morticia Addams costume for a night out. So Sam created this long and dark number that matched perfectly with her spooky ensemble. Would you know that Sam helped Kate with her make-up too? Freak out!
    See’s Halloween celebrity haul here.
    Read up on Morticia Addams here.
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    Chanel: The Little Black Jacket

    Who says you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover? Take one look at the new Chanel tome, “The Little Black Jacket”, and you know it’s going to be every bit as amazing as it promises to be.

    Sam worked with designer Karl Lagerfeld and stylist Carine Roitfeld on the project for over a year, creating 47 out of the 113 hairstyles in the book. “It was a major project”, says Sam, “with more than 25 subjects on one particular day. It felt like there was always a huge ‘dressing up box’ feel to the shoots. Because Carine had styled the jackets in so many different ways, we needed an enormous selection of hairpieces, wigs, hats, scarves, veils etc to plunder. All our subjects were encouraged to have fun and contribute any personal idea they felt strongly about. I think it shows!”

    The images seen here were taken by Sam at the opening of the London leg of the exhibition that is accompanying the book at the Saatchi Gallery. The exhibit has been travelling the world month by month, and is only in London until the 28th of October. See it before it goes!

    See more information about the book and the exhibition here.
    Read’s review on the exhibition here.
    See Sam in action on the ‘Making Of The Little Black Jacket’ here.

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    There has been much anticipation in the run up to the release of the first edition of ‘CR Fashion Book’, the new magazine by editor Carine Roitfeld. And now it is finally here. From the pre-Raphaelite waved hair on Lara Stone in ‘A Woman’s Life’, to hairstyles on make-believe corpses in ‘Lucho and Juliet’, to gothic peroxide blonde hair on a night shoot in ‘Strike’, Sam worked on three of the amazing editorials in the new edition and tells of his experience:
    “It’s always going to be an interesting shoot when Carine is styling, even more so when it’s for the first issue of her own magazine. She has a presence and energy like no other, and is always encouraging the team to break boundaries. Take, for example, her cinematic collaboration with Tom Ford, ‘Lucho and Juliet’ where the model is dead, or even the ‘Strike’ story shot by esteemed film director Luca Guadagnino, which tells a story in still pictures. The tongue in cheek ‘A Woman’s Life’, by Sebastian Faena is another fashion spread turned into a high drama story. One thing is for sure… It’s never boring.”
    For more information on CR Fashion Book, click here.
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    Couture shoots are always something of a fantasy, to represent the elaborate and decadent pieces of art that are being shot. This ‘Sweet Escape’ story shot by Nick Knight for W Magazine, featuring model Karlie Kloss, is something of an ethereal wonderland of images, with make-up by the incredible Val Garland and all wigs customised by Sam.
    All the wigs, as you can see in the images, were larger than life, vibrant, custom-coloured and cut on the day on set, using 3-4 different colours on each wig for a real other-worldly effect. The shoot itself was a long day. Shot in Paris, it involved changing the set, make-up and hair each and every shot, such was Nick’s vision. Karlie, ever the professional, really absorbed the role of couture ballerina, getting in a few precariously balanced positions and going that extra mile to make sure the shot looked right.
    The flower and tulle head-dresses were made by Sam on the shoot. Speaking of the day, he said, “I was making it all up a bit as I went along, photographer Nick and stylist Edward Enninful really let Val and I run riot on hair and make-up. It was so much fun”.
    See more images from the shoot on W Magazine’s website here.
    Check out Nick Knight’s Tumblr page for more insight into the day here.
    Click here to see all the beautiful images from this shoot in Sam’s Portfolio.
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    CHANEL S/S 2013

    The Chanel show is always the pinnacle of Paris Fashion Week for editors but it’s no mean feat to organise and produce. The roll call for the ‘eco’ show involved 70 models in the Grand Palais walking around huge solar-panelled wind turbines and took a week to prepare.
    Hair by Sam was soft, natural and light to the touch in contrast with the exact centre parting that accented the low little knot he was creating. The lengths of the hair were folded into the nape of the neck and casually spun into a loose twist, then held in place with Karl’s finishing touch to the hair, an enormous Chanel pearl. As ever, it’s the little finishing touches that set this show apart from all the others. What could be more chic?
    Read’s backstage review on the hair and make-up here.
    See the entire collection here.
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    “Global exotic” was the theme behind Vivienne Westwood’s Gold Label show in Paris. So Sam styled hair in a way that expressed this season’s inspiration, whilst staying true to the quintessentially eccentric British style that has come to be expected – and loved – where Vivienne’s shows are concerned. Each of the models had a slightly different look, but they all fell into two main camps. The first being the slicked back, more sporty masculine style, for which Sam used Pantene’s Ultra Strong Mousse to blow dry the hair away from the face, and then layered on the Damage Defence Conditioning Spray into the sides for a weathered, wet-look effect. It is usually a mask, but for today’s show it was turned into a styling product, such is its versatility. The second group of looks, were the more wild, out-there styles which were an homage to the afro and the way in which African women so exquisitely style their hair. For this, Sam played with shape and texture, setting the hair into pin-curls before brushing them out into big, blown-out styles. The theme for the show also centred around a message that is very close to Vivienne’s heart, which is global climate change, and you can read about it all on her personal blog, ‘Get A Life’, here.
    See the show review on here.
    Elle UK give their backstage beauty review here.

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    BALMAIN S/S 2013

    Plait attack! Our favourite Balmain girl gets a sporty makeover this season with a loosely braided ponytail that exudes ‘cool’ thanks to an easy, undone texture, which is integral to her very nature of being. This season, the clothes are even more embellished and couture-like than before (if you could ever imagine that was possible, they are always so exquisite), therefore a sportier, no-fuss hair look perfectly complemented this.

    So whilst you’re saving up for the hefty investment that a show piece might cost, recreating the hair look at the show needn’t be easier. Simply tie hair into a ponytail bang in the middle of the head and plait the lengths. Wisps and flyaways encouraged.

    See the full collection on here.
    Read what’s Beauty Counter Blog thought of Sam’s braiding.