He's had his fingers in the hair of some of the world’s most remarkable women: Princess Diana’s iconic slicked-back ’90s crop, Tilda Swinton channelling Bowie with flame red Ziggy hair and Kate Moss’s don’t-give-a-fuckmop. Sam McKnight is responsible for them all, so after 40 years of supreme coiffuring, it seems only right that he finally gets his very own exhibition.
Put together by Shonagh Marshall, who co-curated the Isabella Blow smash of a show back in 2013, this is the first major exhibition to highlight the importance of hair in the wider world of fashion, and it further marks Somerset House out as looking beyond the obvious to champion the industry’s more unsung heroes. Hair can easily be overlooked – maybe because we (almost) all have it – but if an outfit is a statement, then hair (similarly to shoes) acts as the punctuation and can completely change the intention of a look.
And so Sam McKnight’s contribution to countless incredible images is just as important as those of all the photographers he’s worked with. Coinciding with the launch of a book of the same name, the exhibition will feature photography, personal pics and tear sheets. But more excitingly there will be couture installations dedicated to the two designers that McKnight has long collaborated with.
Complete with wigs to recreate the original look from the catwalk shows, one section will be given over to London’s most anarchically fabulous Dame, Vivienne Westwood, and the second will be dedicated to fantastic French couture house Chanel. And as the wise Dolly Parton once said: ‘The bigger the hair, the closer to God’, so this show ought to be utterly divine.
Somerset House. Temple. Wed Nov 2–Mar 12 2017. £12.50, £10 concs.