Masters at Work: Sam McKnight

Masters at Work: Sam McKnight

For V107, we highlight the superstar makeup artists and hairstylists who have earned a spotlight of their own.

For V107, we highlight the superstar makeup artists and hairstylists who have earned a spotlight of their own.

Photography: Schohaja

Text: Priya Rao

For someone with a pedigree as distinguished as Sam McKnight’s, it’s a bit surprising that his earliest jobs weren’t particularly chic. He freely admits that working in fashion and hair was never a “burning ambition,” but after tackling several odd jobs—like cleaning windows—McKnight found his calling when he landed a job in a friend of a friend’s hair salon at age 18. “I ended up helping them out on Saturdays in reception, and I found myself intrigued by the hair world,” the stylist remembers. “Very soon, I was actually learning how to cut hair.”

McKnight looked to pop culture for much of his inspiration. “In the heart of the ’60s, I was really young and captivated by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, but when I became a teenager, David Bowie became my style icon,” he reflects. “Glam rock and colored hair were crazy and very, very, very glamorous.”

The same could be said of his career: among the many highlights (pun intended) include Princess Diana’s feathery yet sleek short haircut and the extensions Lady Gaga wore as garnish for her meat dress. He’s also the guy who orchestrated Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid’s hair color switch at the Balmain Fall 2016 show, and he continues to surprise with looks like the playful side ponytails that he created for Chanel’s Spring 2017 runway offering (seen below). “I like to think I loosened hair up when I came along,” he reveals. “I guess my whole ethos is to make women look great, and it’s not about forcing a style on someone that doesn’t make any sense or doesn’t make them look good.”

That point of view has catapulted McKnight from a respected insider to a celebrity in his own right, with a book called Hair by Sam McKnight published last fall, and an Instagram following that’s climbed north of 100,000. “The feedback I’ve gotten on social media is amazing because I don’t just do this for my peers,” he says. “I finally feel like I have given something back.”

UP NEXT

Ariana Grande Announces One Love Manchester Benefit Concert Lineup