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.
Chanel. In the hot tropics. What’s not to love? With a big build-up to the show starting with what seemed like the entire fashion industry Instagramming from their various hotel pools in Dubai, you knew you could always expect a big buzz around Chanel’s inter-season collection. With Dallas being a tough act to follow, Karl raised the fashion bar that little bit higher, by show-casing the collection not just in a beautiful show-space but rather his own island. Chanel Island.
Editor’s were taken by boat to view the show, which comprised of beautiful exotic prints (very Middle Eastern), petrol can handbags (totally inspired), Arabian slippers (very Princess Jasmine). From the hair, there was not one, but two hair looks created by Sam. The first was inspired by Marisa Berenson and Arabian Princesses, which Sam described as “a highly stylised idea of a late Sixties/early Seventies rich chic, brought into the modern day with a more natural, less-stiff finish.” For this look, he set about curling hair with a large-barrel tong, which he fixed with Sebastian Forte Spray, before then brushing and teasing with a Mason & Pearson brush for oversized volume. Topped up with Oribe’s Texturizing Spray at the roots for extra volume. These looks were larger than life. The second,straighter look, was blow-dried up and off the face with L’Oreal Professionnel’s Techni.Art Pli Volume Mousse and then combed high on the crown and finished with a spritz of Oribe’s Texturizing Spray. After smoothing the “bump”, the lengths were left unstyled and unbrushed, so designed by Sam to give the look more of a modern edge. Adoring each of the girls’ heads were also a myriad of different hair accessories, ranging from ‘inter-locking C’ tiaras, brooches and whole head chain pieces that were worthy of any royalty. Teamed with the make-up from Tom Pecheux, which featured flecks of real gold leaf bejewelling the inside corner of heavily smoked eyes, the whole look was a veritable Aladdin’s cave of treasure. 1,001 nights? You only need one where Chanel is concerned.
Calling all shoppers. This is an announcement to say that Chanel’s show this season was an absolute triumph. More theatre than just catwalk, Karl Lagerfeld had the Grand Palais transformed into a giant supermarket, complete with Cara, Linsey, Stella et al shopping the aisles for their Chanel produce (they had everything from cheese, to paint, to detergent, to doormats, all emblazoned with the eponymous double ‘C’ logo). So what for their make-up and hair? Eyelids were painted in primary brights infused with metallics and Sam created these exaggerated ponytails woven with tweed, pearls and camellias in true Chanel style. Speaking backstage, Sam said, “I blew up the proportions and detail of the ponytail, incorporating crimped extensions, braided hair in multi-coloured Chanel tweed rags, lace and pearls. I used Fudge Salt Spray, then Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray to create a dry volume, which was then crimped randomly, woven and braided with the Chanel fabrics, and fastened at the base with one of the woven braid”. Chanel dreadlocks? Just watch how the masses will follow…
With a new creative director at the helm, Fausto Puglisi, Ungaro embarked on a new era this season, with sharp tailoring, bold prints and a sleek feminine silhouette in the form of split pencil skirts, form-fitting trousers and accents of leather. Sam was creating a strong, but natural, hair look in tandem, via a graphic center parting and long lengths that had been gone over with the ghd eclipse for a smooth, high-shine finish.
Ah, Dame Viv. You can always expect the unexpected from her and her collections. And for her Gold collection show this season the look was every bit as outlandish as you might predict, but with a beautiful tribal spin. With make-up ‘face paint’ by Val Garland, who took her cues from the Peruvian tribe and the first couturier Charles Worth that inspired Vivienne’s collection, Sam was creating two distinct looks with the hair: the first an explosion of corkscrew curls, and the second a small head with a high-shine hair wrap. The final flourish? Some had a feather headdress – a true Vivienne accent.
“Undone rather than overdone” was Sam’s motto backstage at Isabel Marant this season, which has long been the backstage beauty look that resonates so well with beauty editors and fashion editors alike (who doesn’t want to look like an Isabel Marant girl?). With dishevelled hair and barely there make-up, Isabel Marant is a show where you can expect “cool, sexy, French style”. How? By prepping with L’Oréal Tech.ni Art Mousse, putting in random bends with curling tongs and then misting through with Bumble & bumble’s Dryspun Finish Spray. Then team with chunky knits, oversized shoulders, slouchy trousers and fur-lined boots and you are all set for winter, the Isabel Marant way.
Fact: Dries Van Noten loves a side parting. Season after season he chooses to have his hair be different variations on a theme – and who can forget the gold leaf foil laced through a side slick last season? This season Sam chose to give the side step more of a Fourties feel in the form of Veronica Lake waves pulled up off one side of the face with an oversized silver barrette and twisted up into a faux-bob. Texture played an important role in creating the look, with Fudge Salt Spray and Oribe Dry Texturising Spray being used to prep hair before it was tonged into a set wave and brushed out for soft retro waves. Easy Dries-y.