Princess Diana’s Hairstylist Revealed the *Real* Story Behind Her Iconic Haircut

It was a split-second decision that went down in history.

There’s not much Princess Diana did that went unnoticed or not talked about. Her impeccable taste in fashion and beauty has continued to win over the world even all these years later, and the Princess of Wales’ former hairstylist, Sam McKnight, has a few words to say about it.

While her glitzy dresses and dazzling jewels were ever-changing, her signature hairstyle remained constant and is still talked about to this day—thanks to McKnight. She “made us all melt,” he recalled in an April 6th video interview with British Vogue, describing Princess Diana as a “leggy blonde.”

After styling Princess Diana during a magazine shoot, he nailed the gig of a lifetime: working as her personal hairstylist, which he had the honor of doing from 1990 to 1997. Before saying their goodbyes on that very first day together, Diana gave him his first task.

At the end of the day, she said ‘What would you do with my hair if I said just do anything?’ and I said, ‘I’d cut it all off and start again,’ McKnight continued, saying she told him to cut it all off right there, right now. And the rest is literal history. We never looked back. 

McKnight explained the inspiration behind the signature short hairstyle came from the work he was doing with other clients in the entertainment industry. 

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

Fast forward nearly three decades later, and McKnight is styling Hollywood’s Princess Diana, Emma Corrin, from Netflix’s mega-popular series The Crown.

“I remember that day. That was my first job after the first lockdown in summer [2020] and I remember when the job came in I wasn’t quite sure that I was the right person to do this,” McKnight said about the current Vogue photoshoot. “And actually it was a pleasure and Emma was a pleasure, and I was quite taken by how alike Emma was to Princess Diana in her looks. And she was such a lovely girl that any doubts and fears were laid, and I think it’s a great cover.”

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
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