One of the most respected and accomplished hairstylists of his generation, Sam McKnight has styled hair for Chanel, Vivienne Westwood, Balmain and Fendi, to name but a few, and worked on over 190 Vogue covers, all of which are displayed in his exhibition: Hair by Sam McKnight.
Curated by Shonagh Marshall and designed by Michael Howells, Sam McNight’s remarkable 40 year career is displayed at Somerset House, and traces his legacy in hairstyling from the 1970s till today, including his work with celebrities such as Kate Moss, Tilda Swinton, Lady Gaga and the late Princess Diana, for whose recognisable slicked-back bob style he was responsible.
The exhibition is well worth the £13 entry fee, allowing its visitors a view into the world of hairstyling at shows and photoshoots and the significance hair holds when it comes to bringing a certain style or image to life.
The rooms divide the exhibition up into different collaborations McNight has maintained including Karl Largerfeld, Nick Knight and Mario Testino. The exhibition has something for everyone. Dotted around are step-by-step ways in which to recreate some of McNight’s most iconic styles and examples of when they were used, appealing very much to the millennial generation who may not have been around for most of McNight’s accomplishments, but like getting an insight into what happens behind the scenes.
Video is an important contributor to the exhibition, with a specially-made film showing McNight’s personal interests in things such as gardening, from which he takes inspiration for his work, and his long standing friendship with Kate Moss. Another features a series of Chanel shows in which McNight’s contribution is significant in helping Karl Lagerfeld create a breathtaking parallel universe.
Falling into hair dressing by accident at the age of 18, McNight has gone from sweeping floors in a small salon in Scotland to regularly styling hair for the likes of Linda Evangelista and Kirsty Turlington on Vogue magazine covers, a journey which is illustrated in an engaging and intimate way in this first-ever exhibition to focus on hairstyling. This apparently trivial subject is given significance through the exhibition, presented as a constant element in the creation and development of image and fashion through Sam McKnight’s legacy.
Photos: Peter MacDiarmid