Celebrity hairdresser reveals how he got to give Princess Diana her signature haircut

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Princess Diana's stylish short hairdo (seen here in 1997) became one of her trademark features. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Princess Diana's stylish short hairdo (seen here in 1997) became one of her trademark features. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

It was a look coveted by millions of women around the world. “I’d like a Princess Diana,” they’d tell their hairdressers.

Now the man behind Di’s famous short hairdo has revealed how it came about.

Speaking on Vogue Visionaries, British Vogue and YouTube UK’s series of free masterclasses, celebrity hairstylist Sam McKnight says he first met the People’s Princess on a Vogue shoot in 1990.

“This leggy blonde comes bouncing up the stairs, smiled and made us all melt, and it was Princess Diana,” says the 65-year-old who has also worked with pop star Lady Gaga and former supermodel Kate Moss.

(PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)
British celebrity hairstylist Sam McKnight who was responsible for Diana's short 'do. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

“We were doing facial portraits for [British Vogue] magazine and Diana wore a tiara and I made her hair look short under it. 

“At the end of the day she said, ‘What would you do with my hair if I was to say, ‘Just do anything’?' and I said, ‘I would cut it all off and just start again’.

“It was the beginning of the ’90s and at the time I was doing lots of shows and covers and a lot of the girls had short hair. We were moving from the big froufrou ’80s into the sharp, more androgynous, business chic of the ’90s.

“So she said, ‘Well, why don’t you just cut it off now?’ So I cut it off then and we never looked back.”

PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images
Diana (seen here in 1995) sported her short do for much of the nineties and it was copied by millions of women. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Of course, the cut was copied by women around the world and became her signature look.

Sam also styled Emma Corrin, who plays Diana in the Netflix series The Crown, for the October cover of British Vogue last year and admits he wasn’t sure at first if he was the right man for the job.

“That was my first job after the first lockdown and I remember when the job came in I wasn’t quite sure that I was the right person to do this.”

But he says Emma, who in the series relied on wigs to recreate the late princess’ hairstyles, was “a pleasure”.

(PHOTO: Vogue UK)
The Crown's Emma Corrin, who plays Princess Diana, on the cover of British Vogue last October. (PHOTO: Vogue UK)

“I was quite taken by how alike Emma was to Diana in her looks. And she was such a lovely girl that any doubts and fears were laid to rest and I think it's a great cover.”

Sources: dailymail.co.uk, nylon.com

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24