Sam McKnight and Hair: A Love Story

Sam McKnight and Hair: A Love Story - 01-SAM

Princess Diana’s ‘do was almost as famous as she was—the handiwork of Sam McKnight who was responsible for creating her iconic short feathered (and sometimes slicked-back) hair. Renowned British hairstylist and legend in his own right, McKnight worked closely with the supers of the ‘90s: Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Kate Moss, and Naomi Campbell.


So when it came time for Carine Roitfeld to assemble her dream team for the ‘90s-themed CR Runway show in celebration of LuisaViaRoma’s 90th anniversary set at the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence, McKnight was, obviously, her one and only pick for hair.


“It’s pretty incredible that Carine has managed to corral all of these amazing supermodels and fly them out to Florence just for the show,” McKnight said the day before the show. “The organization is pretty impressive. It’s incredible. I think everyone will be looking at it and it seems like it’s the way forward for the business of brands and retailers. It’s definitely going to be influential.”


CR caught up with McKnight to talk about hair in the ‘90s, when he fell in love with working hair, and what he plans to do next.

Sam McKnight and Hair: A Love Story - 02-SAM-MODEL

What’s the concept for the hair for the show?
“There are two different hair looks: a natural cool-girl ‘90s minimal look and a pulled-back ponytail.”


Are there any essential products you’re using to create the look?
“I have my own [Hair by Sam McKnight] products, and the key products we are using are Lazy Girl, a dry shampoo to clean away the sweat and Cool Girl, a texturizer that prevents the hair from being too flat. For the girls that have the slicked-back hair, we have Modern Hairspray to keep it tight and shiny.”


Did you have a muse or an inspiration for this show?
“The Helmut Lang girls of the ‘90s were in my head and ‘90s Kate Moss.”


What did you love about the ‘90s in terms of hair? Is there a hairstyle or trend that you think back on?
“In the beginning of the ‘90s, hair fell in two different camps: There was very minimal nothing-kind-of-hair and then there was really crazy, eccentric hair. The balance of the two was the beauty of the decade for me. Usually, there is one look that defines [a time period], but in the ‘90s, things started to get more fragmented and individual. That’s when things started to get exciting.”


When did you know this was your calling?
“When I started doing hair in the mid-’70s and I guess when I did my first photo shoot for Vogue in 1977. That’s when I knew hair was definitely my thing.”

Sam McKnight and Hair: A Love Story - 03-SAM-KAREN
McKnight fixing Karen Elson’s hair

When you think about the ‘90s in terms of your career, what is your biggest memory?
“In the ‘90s I was living in New York and having the time of my life. The supermodels had come of age because we started together the decade before. The beginning of the ‘90s and the end of the ‘90s were very different. It was a time of huge change and growth for fashion because the industry was small at the end of the ‘80s and then it became global by the end of the ‘90s.”


How did you first meet Carine?
“I first met Carine on one of her first stories when she became the editor for French Vogue. We worked a lot together. We spent the last 10 years on the Chanel campaigns with Karl Lagerfeld, which was wonderful. We were lucky to have been apart of that.”


What is your favorite memory of Carine?
“My favorite memory of Carine? There are so many! She is so funny. She makes me laugh. It’s hard to remember just one. My favorite part of Carine is that she makes fun of herself. She is self-deprecating. She hasn’t lost her sense of humor.”


You’re using your own products for the show. Why was it important for you to launch your own line?
“It was always something I wanted to do. It was just about time to do it or it wasn’t going to get done. We are constantly working for other brands and giving them ideas that come to fruition. I felt it was time to do it myself. They are styling products, but they’re very light. My products are so light that they’re easy to brush out and super easy to use.”

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