With a portfolio of legendary editorial, advertorial and campaign work spanning four decades, Sam has teased the tresses of everyone from classic icons such as Princess Diana and the original supermodels, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista, to modern day muses, Kendal Jenner and Gigi Hadid.
We caught up with Sam to discover more about his hair styling career and how he came to become one of the most accomplished stylists of an entire generation.
When did you decide that becoming a session stylist was going to be a full-time profession?
Home in Scotland I was training to become a teacher but found it wasn’t for me. I was fascinated by fashion and pop culture and wanted something stimulating in that sense.
I started working for friends who owned a salon in Prestwick, odd jobs around the salon – that’s how I started. Moving to London was the next step and joining Molton Brown.
In those days stylists from the salon would go and do the hair for shoots. Many of the Vogue editors came in to have their hair done. I met Kerry Warn and I could see what he was doing. One day Vogue called the salon needing a hair stylist as someone had been taken ill. I remember being there and thinking “yeah, I want to do this”. I found it really exciting and creatively stimulating.
How did you make the leap to handpicked stylist for celebrities, royalty and glossy publications?
That happened progressively throughout my career. I’ve always taken every opportunity offered to me. Working with Vogue introduced me to stylists and photographers who would recommend me for another job with a designer or celebrity. Which would, in turn, lead to another opportunity. I was introduced to Diana by Patrick Demarchelier. It’s been many years of building relationships with people within the industry.
How have you seen the industry change shape over the length of your career?
Everything is very visible and transparent these days thanks to Instagram etc. It’s great on the one hand to give people insight into the world backstage, and for sharing work with people. But on the flip side, it does take away the magic and mystery behind it all.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to stylists just starting out in the hair business?
This industry is hard work. You need to have a passion for it and put in the hours. Grab all the opportunities you’ve been given.
Tell us more about your book ‘Hair by Sam McKnight’ and what can we expect to see from Sam McKnight through 2017 and beyond?
Hair by Sam McKnight (the book) is an amalgamation of my 40 years in the business working with some of the most talented and creative people in the industry. It’s a celebration of our work together and gives people a snapshot of some of my proudest moments, as well as an authentic insight into the hair industry.
This year will see the launch of my new collection of hair products. The range allows you to play, to experiment & to feel confident & sexy in your hair. It’s about giving power and control back to women.
Discover more from Sam over on sammcknight.com