Princess Diana's Hairstylist Shares the Surprising Story Behind Her Iconic Pixie Cut
It was the chop heard around the world, but it came about nearly by accident.
Sam McKnight, Princess Diana’s hairstylist throughout the ‘90s recently spoke to Today about what inspired the late princesses iconic, tousled crop. And the story behind it only makes us love her even more.
The 61-year-old celebrity hair guru met the princess for the first time at a photo shoot for British Vogue in 1990. He knew he would be styling somebody important, but he says he didn’t know it was Princess Diana until she walked into the room.
“She came bounding up the stairs in a studio in Hackney, this beautiful long-legged blonde, and immediately made us all feel totally at ease,” McKnight tells Today. “She had an amazing way of disarming you and kind of getting rid of all the nerves, and laughing and making jokes.”
McKnight says that he tucked Diana's hair underneath her tiara to make it appear shorter for the shoot, and she liked the look so much, that afterwards she asked McKnight what he would do with her hair if he “had free reign.”
“‘I would just cut it off really short and start again,’” he told her. “She said, ‘Do you want to do it right now?’”
So he did, and the choppy blonde pixie that launched millions of matching haircuts was born.
McKnight recalls the media frenzy that followed. “It was quite astounding,” he says. “I discovered the power that she had in the press. The manner of coverage was quite extraordinary.”
He surmises that people loved how modern and fresh she looked with a bold, short ‘do.
“It was the time of power dressing and supermodels, and there was a movement towards shorter, sharper hair,” he recalls. “There was a movement away from the big shoulder pads and frou-frou styles of the ‘80s.”
McKnight went on to become Diana’s go-to hairdresser, and worked with him up until her untimely death in 1997. He revealed that he often traveled around the world with her on humanitarian trips, and got to experience her uncanny grace first-hand.
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“She had that natural thing that a nurse or a doctor has, that amazing talent to speak to everyone in the same voice as an equal, and make people feel really comfortable,” he tells Today. “It was the same with us, walking into a photo shoot, and it was the same with kids with no arms and no legs … it was quite extraordinary to see.”