In Depth

Mane man: A new exhibition salutes hairstylist Sam McKnight

The master stylist is honoured with a show at Somerset House that highlights his illustrious 40-year career in fashion

From Kate Moss to Naomi Campbell, Chanel to Vivienne Westwood, Vogue to Harper's Bazaar, there is one figure who has played a key role in uniting these pillars of fashion - Sam McKnight.

Over his 40-year career, the hairstylist has been an instrumental part in shaping the style world's aesthetic and creating some of its most iconic imagery. He has worked with the world's most influential designers, models and magazines and helped create more than 100 covers for British Vogue.

Hair by Sam McKnight, a new exhibition at Somerset House, delves into the inspirations, processes and stories behind some of his most recognisable images and styles and the collaborators that helped make them, including renowned photographers Nick Knight and Patrick Demarchelier, stylist Lucinda Chambers and designer Karl Lagerfeld.

The show brings together pieces from McKnight's personal archive alongside photography, magazines and behind-the-scenes footage, as well as specially commissioned wigs and hairpieces. It aims to not only provide an insight into the hairstylist's career, tracing his evolving work through a visual timeline, but place these in context within the aesthetics of each era to show how McKnight influenced - and was influenced by - changing styles.

It also marks the first time Somerset House has introduced a late-night opening on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, giving visitors the opportunity to view the exhibition until 8pm. Produced in partnership with luxury online retailer The Outnet, the evenings will also encompass a programme of tours, talks, screenings, workshops and demonstrations.

"Sam is really one of the true greats of hairdressing. He has total mastery over his craft and combines that with an enthusiasm and commitment to push the boundaries of fashion," says Nick Knight. "The affection, admiration and devotion he has for the models he works with makes his presence on my shoots so valuable. Nobody else can make those women feel as special as Sam does."

Hair by Sam McKnight is at the Embankment Galleries, Somerset House, London WC2R 1LA, until 12 March 2017, tickets £12.50; somersethouse.org.uk

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