April 24 2014

styledotcom .@marinalarroude rounds up the best black & gold finds from Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs & more:

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58 posts tagged "Sam McKnight"

Artists in Residence



This past season, one of the most impressive runway displays was the double-C branded “art gallery” at Chanel. It was dreamed up by (who else?) Karl Lagerfeld, and makeup guru Peter Philips took his cues for the painterly eyes from the freestanding sculptures and canvases flanking the catwalk. Hairstylist Sam McKnight was also influenced by this world, but instead of the actual pieces hanging on the walls, the flared-out wigs were inspired by the women that buy and sell them: “In my head, I was thinking that [the models] should look like those expert art ladies who are dressed in all black and slightly eccentric,” he explained backstage. With so much creativity coming into play for Spring 2014, we asked the beauty pros for the cultural hot spots—ranging from ballet to Basel—they’ll be hitting this holiday season and beyond in this month’s guide.

Photo: Alessandro Garofalo/

Gallery Girls, Backstage at Chanel


ChanelKarl Lagerfeld turned the Grand Palais into a double-C-branded gallery, complete with a Chanel No. 5 robot, a canvas dripping with pearls, and a towering sculpture of the female form comprised of the chain-link leather straps that normally hang from the house’s signature handbags. But the girls who walked the runway were no starving artists, a point made clear by their luxe, textural suits and quilted cream and black leather portfolios.

“In my head, I was thinking that [the models] should look like those expert art ladies that are dressed in all black and slightly eccentric,” said hair guru Sam McKnight of the “downtown New York” and “slightly eighties” muse. Similar to Fendi, the models were fitted with architectural black, blonde, and brunette wigs that he described as “a cross between Darth Vader and a seventies flick.” The faux strands were bulked up with extensions and prepped with a wave-maker, industrial-strength hair spray and gel to give them a stiff, paintbrush-like quality. On site, the hair was tailored to each girl and flared out using a flatiron, then polished off with Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray to lend a flat finish.

The painterly eyes by Peter Philips were inspired not only by the colors used in the pieces that flanked the catwalk but also by a print shown to him by the designer. “It looked a bit like a sample card for a paint company,” he said. To create a blank canvas, he instructed his team to even complexions with Chanel Vitalumière Aqua foundation. The brows were elongated and given a more angular shape with Crayon Sourcils Sculpting Eyebrow Pencil. And before sending the models along, lashes were curled and coated with black mascara, and lips moisturized with Rouge Coco Balm.

Then the lead makeup artist went to town, framing the eyes with thick swatches of black liquid eyeliner that extended past the outer corners, and topping the stenciled arches with the same formula. Next, he dipped a #21 brush into vibrant cakes of theatrical paint in pink, lavender, sky blue, yellow, green, and coral—employing short, uninhibited strokes of contrasting colors across the lids, above the brows, and along the lower lash lines. While the swatches appear to have been placed at random, there was a method to the madness: Philips used only one hue at a time and blotted each with a tissue before applying the next shade—being sure to leave space between blocks to prevent them from running into one another. In addition, only two colors were applied near the tear duct. “There’s a symmetry to the look, but also calculated mistakes,” he explained. As a finishing touch, a BIC lighter was employed to disinfect and soften the tip of the Le Crayon Khol Intense Eye Pencil in Noir before running it across the waterline. The end result was nothing short of a makeup masterpiece.

Photo: Gianni Pucci /

Wigging Out With Cher’s Mane Man


Cher-cropWigs, according to backstage fixture Sam McKnight, have taken the place of hats. And with choppy bowl-cut versions showing up at Marc Jacobs and Fendi, we’d say a trend is on the rise. Once thought of as something saved for Halloween, old ladies, and Lady Gaga, they’re quickly becoming more commonplace. For the photos attached to Cher’s latest album, Closer to the Truth, hairstylist Ricardo Rojas fitted the grand dame of divas and hair chameleon with faux strands reminiscent of a French beauty legend. “I wanted to re-create her signature long waves and youthful energy,” he explained. “I love Brigitte Bardot’s sexy tousled [look], so I went about styling the hair with that texture in mind, along with a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll.” And if your first question is, what exactly is the songstress hiding under the many wigs she wears in the artwork for her latest album—debuting three alone, including one made of newsprint, for the “Woman’s World” music video—it’s “gorgeous and long hair,” said Rojas.

The secrets to wearing a wig well, he explained, are not only to ask your stylist for advice, buy real (not faux), and get it cut by a pro, but to also concentrate on color. “When you first buy a wig, it lacks the darker roots and border that make it appear as if it’s your own,” Rojas elaborated. Then treat it like you would a Lucien Pellat-Finet cashmere sweater, meaning give it major TLC (and a monthly trip to the salon for maintenance). And while a quality rug is certainly an investment, you don’t have to commit to just one look…or suffer a bad hair day ever again.

Photo: Machado Cicala Morassut

Baring It All at Balmain


balmain“It took longer to take my makeup off than it did to put it on,” Karlie Kloss said backstage at Balmain. Minimal was an understatement, as makeup artist Tom Pecheux applied concealer only where needed, curled the lashes, and dusted powder across the tops of foreheads to take down shine. He focused mainly on skin care—massaging a combination of Estée Lauder DayWear Advanced Multi-Protection Anti-Oxidant Moisturizer and Revitalizing Supreme Crème into complexions, topping them off with Idealist Pore Minimizing Skin Refinisher for a dewy finish. “We transformed the makeup room into a spa,” he said. Pecheux picked up his soft touch from several pros around the globe, including Tracie Martyn, Terri Lawton, and Loudna at Joël Ciocco in Paris. “There are three pressure points [we are hitting]: under the eyes, inner corners, and beginning of the brow bone,” the face painter explained. He added that without the pampering the makeup-less models would “give him shit.” However, I didn’t hear any complaints—as most girls seemed to be in a blissful state as they sat back and enjoyed a little TLC.

The hair was equally as easy and organic. Sam McKnight misted strands with water to coax out natural texture and applied Magic Move Light (a non-greasy pomade shipped in from Japan via a former assistant) to create a piece-y effect.” The clothes are so high-octane that the Balmain woman is confident enough not to need any artifice,” he said. For girls with frizzier textures, he held sections taut with his hands and blew them straight, using a blow-dryer. Models lucky enough to have a thick head of hair had the under layers braided and tucked away to eliminate the bulk. As for the total package, Pecheux summed it up quite succinctly: “The rawness of a supermodel is different than the rawness of a regular woman.” Well, that’s certainly the understatement of the season.

Photo: Sonny Vandevelde /

Golden Girls, Backstage at Dries Van Noten


driesvannotenPeter Philips is known as the master of makeup invention, and when it came to the eyelashes at Dries Van Noten, he certainly spun standard string into beauty gold. After evening out complexions with foundation and powdering the skin, he dusted Chanel Soft Touch Eyeshadow in Ivory (a pearl tone with a hint of shimmer) to provide lids with “a bit of depth.” Then he added sparkle to lashes via metallic thread. “You can never find a gold mascara that does this, and [false] lashes look too drag queen-y,” Philips explained. After snipping the delicate cord into small pieces with a pair of manicuring scissors and dotting models’ natural fringe with eyelash glue, he placed the tinsel-like fibers individually with a pair of tweezers. To frame the face and make the eyebrows uniform, Philips traced slightly outside arches using the Crayon Sourcils Sculpting Eyebrow Pencil in a shade slightly darker than each girl’s hair color; taking away the curve and replacing it with an elongated and angular shape. Lips were toned down with a touch of base just before showtime.

Sharp side parts inspired by Tamara de Lempicka (an art deco painter with Polish roots) and Loulou de la Falaise (Yves Saint Laurent’s muse) were gilded with a mix of hair wax and gold leaf. Hairstylist Sam McKnight washed hair with Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light Shampoo so that it was free of product or shine that would detract from the graphic stripe. He used a steel tail comb to divide the hair from left to right, then worked Sebastian Mousse Forte through the top section and brushed strands behind the ears with a Mason Pearson. A net was pressed over the crown, hit with a blow-dryer, and set with hairspray. The length was left “raw” and misted with water to revive any natural texture. The end result was a look that would make King Midas proud.

Photo: Sonny Vandevelde /