Sam McKnight, who was the royal's personal hairstylist from 1990 until her tragic death in 1997, reveals the story behind the famous pixie cut.
There's no denying that Princess Diana was a fashion icon. Her clothes were stunning and honestly, still remain oh-so-trendy. Not only was her attire always talked about, but so was her signature haircut. People around the world wanted to sport a similar hairstyle like that of the Princess.
But did you know her popular mane came from an impromptu cut? Sam McKnight, who was the royal's personal hairstylist from 1990 until her tragic death in 1997, shares in a new video for British Vogue and YouTube UK. "The first time I met the Princess of Wales was on a shoot," he said. "This leggy blonde comes bouncing up the stairs, smiled and made us all melt, and it was Princess Diana."
The hair expert said they had a "really lovely day" doing portraits for British Vogue, where he did all kinds of styles on the royal's tresses. "I made it look short under the tiara — I faked it a bit," he said. After the photoshoot, Princess Diana curiously questioned McKnight how he would do her hair if she let him do whatever he wanted. "I said, 'I would cut it all off and just start again,'" he recalled. "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." To which, the Princess replied, 'Well, why don't you just cut it off now?' So I cut it off then and we never looked back."
Princess Diana's hair sometimes would grow out into a bob but in the 90s her look was chopped into a pixie cut. "When I met Diana, things were changing," explained McKnight, according to Vogue. "We were moving on from the '80s romantic frills and going much sleeker with short, sharp hair to wear with Chanel and Versace suits of the time. It was all about the power woman look."
Hear me out, Can we all agree my aunty Princess Diana rocked short hair and gender non conforming looks way before it became a thing? No? Riddle me this then. She broke the royal dress codes so many times and it was lit 🔥 each time. 👇🏿 pic.twitter.com/K6oJwqAK85— GreaterGarbo (@army_meghan) August 31, 2020
The last time we saw Diana with somewhat long hair was probably when she was a child. A 10-year-old Diana repped shoulder-length hair, reports Good House Keeping.
That was around the 70s. By the 80s she would sport a blunt bob and her hair remained somewhat similar through the years. When Harry was born on September 15, 1984, Diana stepped out of the hospital with a big blowout. Her hair had so much volume at the time.
By the mid 80's she carried off shoulder-length hair. By the 90's Diana was sporting a pixie haircut again thanks to Sam McKnight's impromptu makeover.
princess diana's hair throughout the years pic.twitter.com/fPipqiSiXf— best of diana (@dianaofhearts) February 10, 2021
According to The Cut, Linda Wells, the founding editor of Allure who was working at Vogue when Lady Spencer became the Princess of Wales shared her insights about the Princess's look before she was, well, a princess. “One of the things that was so associated with Diana was this idea of being hidden in plain sight — her hair was a big part of that. It seems like maybe her hair was her way of holding on to herself,” said Wells.
princess Diana’s feathered hair has lived in my head rent-free since the moment I was old enough to google pic.twitter.com/6LIJVttgzb— summerrrj (@summerrrj) December 24, 2020
“We can exaggerate these things, but at the same time, I think women really do express themselves with their hairstyles, especially when they can’t express themselves in other ways.” If you thought the Princess ever wanted to grow out her locks, think again. No, said McKnight, perhaps because the whole long-locks thing would have been “too princess-y.” Another reason could be that she knew how to stand out; she understood her power. “She knew that people wanted to see ‘Princess Diana,’ so that’s what she gave them,” McKnight said.
In the 2017 documentary Diana In Her Own Words, there are a number of interviews recorded by the princess herself. One time she's asked, "What have been the turning moments in life that turned you from victim to victor?" She stops for a minute and then replies, "I suppose last summer when Sam cut my hair differently, it let out something quite different." For Princess Diana, she knew that her hair could do the talking. And what a statement it made. Even till today.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photos by (L) Stuart Clarke/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive (R) Newsmakers