The Coterie: An evening with Sam McKnight
Last night mrH took himself off into town…. a rare occasion these days, but a special event was happening and it was one NOT to be missed.
The legendary Sam McKnight was being interviewed by Anna Marie Solowij an award winning journalist with an amazing knowledge of all things ‘fashion’.
Hosted by Creative Head and introduced by Catherine Handcock, the event started once Scotlands finest hairdressers had taken their seats!
Catherine opened up the evening and explained she was super excited about the fact that the hotel the group were staying in had Tunnocks teacakes in the bedrooms…. Scotland certainly knows how to pamper it’s guests!
She introduced the event and explained the reason why it was happening in Scotland…. it was Sam’s choice as he is Scottish and it was the perfect place to hold such an auspicious happening.
When Sam and Anna started the interview it was immediately obvious this was going to be an intimate, honest and relaxed event, Sam was a delight, answering the questions asked, and sharing his experiences with an unassuming and delightful approach. We (the audience) were told about how he started his career in Scotland and then went to London where he worked for Molton Brown, which was next door to Vidal Sassoon on South Molton Street, at that time Molton Brown was part of the fashion house Brown’s! This was the 70’s and everything was changing, hair was becoming much more relaxed in it’s styling and Sam explained how he was encouraged not to use dryers wherever possible!
The salon was round the corner from Vogue and occasionally stylists would be asked to go and ‘do the hair’ for a shoot, there was no such thing as a session stylist back then! Eventually, Sam got to assist and then do his own shoot….. this led to his decision to go it alone.
The rest… well it’s history, one only need google the name Sam McKnight to see the enormous body of work he has been involved with (and it was so refreshing to hear him state that it’s all about a team on a photo shoot, not just him). From his very first Vogue cover, through to becoming the hairdresser of choice for Princess Diana, a role he undertook for 7 years, Sam has a body of work that takes your breath away! Sam was responsible for that iconic moment when Diana appeared sporting a very non royal haircut, sharp and sophisticated and very daring!
We learnt about how his involvement with fashion shows developed and of his long standing relationship with Chanel and especially Karl Lagerfeld. Having worked on many shows it was fascinating to hear how the ‘hair’ is developed to fit the show…. there is always a ‘drawing’ sent direct from Karl Lagerfeld as a starting point and then the idea is developed into what we see on the catwalk…. as just happened with the wigs that have been in the press this week! And who would have guessed that Mr Lagerfeld had a sense of humour!!!
Anna was an excellent interviewer as her knowledge of fashion was outstanding and she was able to share her understanding of [this world] with Sam in an enlightening way, making the experience a more real and grounded one for us all.
Sam talked about his acceptance of social media….. something that a few years ago was considered taboo in the fashion world, especially when backstage…. nothing was to be photographed, well not for publication at least, but as Sam explained, he used to (years ago) take polaroids and share them with his friends and family, whereas now he has embraced Instagram and uses it to share his work and personal pictures, generally of cakes and flowers!!!! He has, by the way, 65.3K followers!!!!! There are still a few backstage rules, but as can be seen on his Instagram page, the model are all eager to have their ‘selfies’ taken with Sam and they are posted constantly. He also likes to post images of himself wearing wigs…. and as he rightly said, every hairdresser on the planet, when faced with a selection of wigs and pieces, tries them on!!
The quote of the evening for me was “I use Instagram like I used to use scrapbooks and polaroids, the only difference is that the images now get shared across the globe”
It was an extraordinary night, we were privvy to some stunning images, some background stories, lots of laughs and an honesty that was a pleasure to observe.
A touching moment: Sam thanked Catherine for helping bring session and salon hairdressers together, something she in turn thanked Sam for doing….. it could have been schmaltzy, but it wasn’t, it was a genuine moment!
mrH is hoping that Creative Head and Babyliss bring Sam back again so we can hear more from a true legend!
We all left feeling inspired and delighted to have witnessed such a great event…. goody bag in hand (containing the latest edition of Creative Head and a fabulous Babyliss Pro Waving Wand), mrH jumped in a cab home with a dear friend and we both agreed that the night has been awesome!