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Article: Legs Talk: Sam Mcknight MBE

legs talk

Legs Talk: Sam Mcknight MBE


Iconic hair stylist and brand founder, Sam McKnight MBE, renowned for his work on the late Princess Diana, creating her memorable short, slicked-back hairstyle for Vogue magazine, walks and talks with Kate around his spectacular garden for this month's edition of Legs Talk. With a career spanning several decades, McKnight has collaborated with all the supermodels .. Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss and Linda Evangelista .. and VIPs around the world, as well as creating hair for catwalks and session shoots around the world - he has well over 190 Vogue cover shoots to his name. In this edition of Legs Talk, we learned about why he developed his brand, Hair by Sam Mcknight, his kind of music, his favourite shoot ever and who he thinks has the best legs ever. And we got to see that magic garden.  

Do you have a leg day or take any exercise Sam?

I do a lot of walking, and since I've had the dog I do even more. I probably do 6 miles a day with the dog on a normal day, but I do love a 10-15 mile hike. I love to do that along the River Thames near Marlow and Henley, it's so beautiful. My puppy's not old enough to be doing a long walk like that.

Would you put him in a rucksack?

No, he's too big for a rucksack. No, no, I didn't get a dog to put him in a rucksack. We will be walking mates and he's 10 months now, so I think in a couple of months he will be up for a long hike and we can both get our legs toned for summer.

How many of those miles do you think you do in this garden?

Quite a lot probably. I didn't even think of that.

Talk me through your playlist, is there one?

I love 70's and 80's soul music, that's my go to you know? 

Eartha Kitt?

I love Eartha Kitt, Ella Fitzgerald. I love that whole American song book thing, that American easy listening music, I love Frank Sinatra, but I really love Barry White, Teddy Pendegrass, Dionne Warwick, I love all those classic really soulful singers.

Tell me something, Sam McKnight Hair, what's the difference?

What's the difference? Where do I begin? It is a hair care line developed by myself and my team who are all hairdressers, so everything is done from scratch from the formulations to the packaging, and everything in between and nothing gets past us if it doesn't work. We have this idea to do a product, we go to the lab and tell them what we want and we don't rest until it's absolutely perfect. I think I know people now want hair products that aren't heavy, that have really light formulations, but, really do the trick, and I think that was missing when I started mine, and stuff that works very quickly and is almost foolproof. I think what inspired me to really do the line of products was I kept seeing this negative narrative about hair, that your hair is so bad, that this is what you need, and most people that sit in my chair whether they're supermodels or real people, like the woman next door, they would say "oh so and so says my hair is really terrible", no. Most peoples hair isn't really terrible. It's finding the product that works on your hair, but that is really easy and uncomplicated to use, and I think that's what we've done. 
princess diana betty grabel ella fitzgerald

What was your most favourite shoot?

I haven't got one. How could I possibly have a favourite shoot? I did a book a few years ago and the publisher said 300 images limit. We put 900 images in there because this is my favourite shoot now, and then 2 minutes later "oh no no that was my favourite shoot". There's no favourite, we have some very special moments because it's not so much about the photo, it's about the day and the people that were there and the magic that happened on that day because it is all about the people. We had a very special day with Princess Diana the first time I met her with Patrick Demarchelier for Vogue with Mary Greenwell, myself, Patrick and Anna Harvey, which was just a joy and those pictures have just become so iconic. She was sitting on the floor with a strapless white dress on that people thought was a towel wrapped around her, she has a huge beaming smile on her face and I have a fridge magnet of that which brings me a lot of joy. Those moments are not just 2 dimensional on the cover of a magazine, they have so much more meaning to the people who were involved because it's not just about having someone in and taking a picture, there's a process of hair and makeup, getting ready and lighting.

Is it still like that now?

Yes. It's faster now.

And backstage, what's that like?

It's less busy backstage because there's less people there. No that's wrong, there's far more models, more hair and makeup people, there's less press so there's less photographers backstage. The balance has shifted. People are taking their own images on their phones, me included.

Who is your leg icon?

I'm not a leg man, I'm a head man. It's got to be one of those 40's pinup girls. It's got to be Betty Grable really.

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courtney claghorn legs talk
legs talk

Legs Talk: Courtney Claghorn

Sugared + Bronzed founder, Courtney Claghorn, joins Kate for another special edition of Legs Talk in LA where we learn about her favourite music and who her leg icon is.

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