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Sam McKnight Took Us Backstage at LFW – Here's What We Saw

January 1 | 3 minute read

Sam McKnight backstage doing a model's hair and a polaroid of the final backstage hair look

Words by Darcy Brown

Originally published on | October 16

Have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes at London Fashion Week? As fashion enthusiasts gather from around the globe, eagerly waiting in their seats for the unveiling of the latest trends, a whirlwind of organised chaos and high-energy creativity erupts backstage. Join MECCA behind the curtain of the Annie’s Ibiza SS24 show as we chat with the legendary hairstylist, Sam McKnight, while he works his magic.

Sam McKnight doing a models hair backstage

Image credit: Sam McKnight

Sam McKnight backstage with designer Annie Doble

Image credit: Sam McKnight

On a quintessentially cloudy day in London, we found ourselves in the heart of Mayfair two hours before the reveal of the highly anticipated second collection from UK/Ibiza-based (and A-lister-adored) vintage specialist, Annie Doble.

Impeccably attired doormen greeted us outside the city’s decadent hot spot, Bacchanalia. Nestled within is Apollo’s Muse, a lavish parlour and exclusive member's club. Adorned in floor-to-ceiling marble and Greek and Roman-style artwork and sculptures, it was perfectly chosen as the romantic backdrop for Doble’s ethereal pieces.

Approaching ‘backstage’ – upstairs – an indistinct symphony of activity echoed from the other side of the doors; stepping into the room, a mix of hairspray and fragrance mingled with the buzz of excitement and a dash of adrenaline. It was here we instantly found Sam McKnight, standing out from his dressed-in-black team in a vibrant leaf-patterned shirt, stationed behind the production line of models moving between makeup, hair and racks of clothes.

Model laughing backtage

Image credit: Sam McKnight

The back of a model's hair backstage with a bun

Image credit: Sam McKnight

Considering his remarkable career crafting iconic hair looks for the likes of Princess Diana and Lady Gaga, McKnight exudes a remarkable warmth and a genuine sense of approachability, even amidst the backstage frenzy. While casually braiding a model’s hair in a fishtail plait, he begins talking us through the inspiration for today’s look.


''It's all about the details,'' he tells MECCA. "There's a kind of baroque feeling to the clothes with velvet, lace and frills. The hair was inspired by the intricate embroidery throughout [Annie's] collection.” McKnight chose an up-do on most models to show off the collars and stunning details that decorate the clothes.


It's all about the details
Sam McKnight
Three models posing for a photo backstage

Image credit: Darcy Brown

Two models standing together backstage

Image credit: Sam McKnight

Naturally, the team is exclusively using Hair by Sam McKnight products to create the styles. With only three carefully selected items neatly arranged in front of his chair, we couldn’t help but wonder how McKnight would achieve the sculptural ook depicted in the reference photo – yet, the essence of the brand is that its product range is designed to simplify hairstyling and make intricate looks achievable. So, if there was one brand capable of executing this vision seamlessly, it had to be his.


The look began with a middle parting. With the help of Hair by Sam McKnight's Self Control Gel, he sculpted lustrous finger waves on each side and secured them with wave clips to ''mirror the baroque waves in the clothes''.  He then gathered and tied the hair in a low ponytail at the back. 


“We love Dressed To Kill,” he said, using the smoothing cream to de-fluff and defrizz the gathered hair. Next, he utilised fishtail plaits at the back to “echo the lace and cut out details of the clothes”. The plait was then twisted into low chignons to create a small ''masculine'' head and finished with Modern Hairspray to add that spotlight-worthy shine and to tame any residual flyaways.

Two models backstage

Image credit: Sam McKnight

Polaroid of the model hair look backstage

Image credit: Darcy Brown

For the models with their hair left loose, McKnight opted for his signature ‘undone’ look. With one of them running a tad behind schedule, McKnight kept his calm as she hurried through the door and his team got to work. She took off her coat, settled into the chair, and exited with runway-ready locks in what felt like a mere five minutes. The secret weapon? Dressed To KillTo our surprise, this was the single product used on her hair, adding shine while enhancing its natural texture and shape. 


With his job complete, we had to ask what was next on McKnight’s schedule. His answer? Breakfast with his close friend and fellow British icon, Kate Moss, of course. And with London Fashion Week coming to a close, his next stop was Paris, where his creative touch would be seen at Dries Van Noten and Balmain. (Oh, and a new launch may be on the horizon from his brand, too…)

Related topics and brand tags

Hair careHair stylingHair accessoriesFrizz prone hairWavy hair

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