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The BoF Podcast: Sam McKnight on Why Fashion Is the ‘Eternal Optimist’

In the latest special edition of the BoF Podcast, celebrated hair stylist Sam McKnight talks to BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about the future of hairstyling and the fashion industry beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
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LONDON, United Kingdom — London-based hair stylist Sam McKnight, who has worked with everyone from Lady Gaga to Princess Diana, as well as Chanel, Fendi and Burberry, isn't the sentimental type.

"I've never been a great believer of things going back to how they were," he told BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks in a special edition of the BoF Podcast. "Going forward, there's definitely new ways of looking at things… fashion is the eternal optimist."

McKnight, who did the hair for Chanel’s Autumn/Winter 2020 runway show during Paris Fashion Week, first realised the severity of the health crisis when he was required to get a health check by a doctor prior to entering the Grand Palais. “It seemed a little more serious then,” he said. “After that, [the coronavirus] moved pretty quickly.”

Soon enough, four potential editorial projects were caput. McKnight’s workflow, like that of many other imagemakers, stopped.

The legendary hairstylist, hailed by The New York Times as "one of the most important imagemakers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries," with over 190 International Vogue cover credits under his belt, underscored that this period of social isolation is also an opportunity for fashion media to press the reset button.

Going forward, there's definitely new ways of looking at things… fashion is the eternal optimist.

“You have a feeling that lots of things look the same… the medium of magazines has been the same for many years. It’s maybe about some young group coming along and creating a new medium,” he said. “Throughout history, [magazines] have brought optimism and joy through the letterbox or on the newsstand.”

And while the salon industry has been hit particularly hard by the lockdowns, McKnight predicts there will be boom in the coming months. “Beauty is crucial to some people,” he saids. “It's not going to be done by a machine or a computer anytime soon… hair and makeup [stylists] are going to be needed, they’re not going to be disposed of.”

Tune into this episode of the BoF Podcast, where McKnight unpicks how the pandemic will accelerate change that was already happening in the fashion industry.

Subscribe to BoF Professional for unlimited access to BoF articles, plus exclusive benefits for members. For a limited time, enjoy a 25 percent discount on the first year of an annual membership, exclusively for podcast listeners. Simply, click here, select the Annual Package and use code PODCASTPRO at the checkout.

To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions, or speaker ideas please e-mail podcast@businessoffashion.com.

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