Chanel’s Go-to Hairstylist on ’90s Supermodels and Today’s It Girls

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“It doesn’t really get much better than Chanel. What’s not to love about that?” legendary hairstylist Sam McKnight asked Polestyle Tuesday night inside the French fashion house’s SoHo boutique. A tough question to answer indeed, especially when surrounded by models and style insiders, all decked out in Chanel, on hand to celebrate McKnight’s new tome, Hair by Sam McKnight.

That was the scene around which McKnight joined friends like models Michelle Hicks and Helena Christensen to raise a glass to his career, during which he’s clipped and snipped the locks of Madonna and Kate Moss, to name a few. Was choosing which images to include in his book tough? “It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done,” he told us of editing down 40 years of images. “It was really sad and really funny because I’m emotionally attached to each image. So for me to lose some of our favorite images, and we had to, was kind of heartbreaking.”

McKnight, who’s been working with Chanel, specifically, for about nine years, moved on to reminisce on his favorite memories with the brand, citing Chanel’s 2013 cruise show at Versailles and its fall 2013 couture show in Dubai as his favorites. The reason he keeps coming back, it seems, is the team, which of course includes Karl Lagerfeld, the author behind his new book’s foreword.

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“Karl’s such a dream to work with. He always wants me to do something different for every single show. It’s never the same twice. So the challenge is quite, the bar is high and it’s always challenging but, you know what? He’s such a dream,” he told us while mingling with stars like Anja Rubik (below), adding, “It’s a well-oiled machine. It runs really well. It’s like a family to me almost.”

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That family also includes the models and runway superstars he works with. As for how the talent has changed from the ’80s to today? It’s totally different. “The ’80s girls came from nothing and built their careers as models and these girls, they’ve come in as celebrities, so it’s not quite the same,” he said, referring to It girls like Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner. “Gigi’s amazing. She’s lovely, she’s great. She reminds me of one of those ’80s girls … they’re gorgeous girls who work really hard and sell magazines and clothes.”

Hair by Sam McKnight is now available for $55 at

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