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Image / Style / Beauty

Hairstylist Sam McKnight on his Princess Diana haircut that sparked a million crops

by Holly O'Neill
08th Sep 2020

Princess Diana

Princess Diana

Hairstylist Sam McKnight talks about the Princess Diana haircut that sparked a generation of crops

Having worked on hundreds of international Vogue covers and been Princess Diana’s personal hairstylist for seven years, it makes perfect sense that British Vogue would ask hairstylist Sam McKnight to recreate his former client’s hairstyle on Emma Corrin (who will play Diana in the next series of The Crown) for British Vogue’s October 2020 cover.

Sam McKnight, whose CV also includes Kate Moss’ bedhead, every Chanel fashion show and the best texture spray on the market, told British Vogue that at first, recreating Diana’s hair “felt weird” but “to be honest, Emma is playing Diana before I even met her, so it felt fine. We took a nod to the photos of Diana [in that period] and made a little pastiche of it.”


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In 1990, Sam McKnight met Princess Diana on a Vogue shoot and gave her the cut that defined her look and inspired a generation of women to flock to their hairdressers for the same. “At the end of the shoot she asked me what I’d do to her hair if I could do anything I wanted,” Sam McKnight told British Vogue, and I said, ‘well, I’d just cut it all off and start again,’ because it was 1990. There was a sharpening up of those really maximalist silhouettes from the ’80s coming, and a much leaner, almost androgynous power dressing had appeared on the scene. I said, ‘Cut it off, get rid of the ’80s frou-frou and start again with a minimal, short haircut.’ Which is what we did.”

This haircut was seminal in how Diana saw herself going forward. “Someone sent me a television clip of her, around the time of the Andrew Morton book, where the interviewer asked her what sparked her confidence to change in the early ’90s, and she actually said that it was Sam, who cut her hair. I melted,” said McKnight.

Read more: The Crown’s Emma Corrin on playing Princess Diana

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