Tips from a top celebrity hair stylist

The word celebrity as an adjective is tossed around casually these days but when it comes to celebrity hair stylists,

The word celebrity as an adjective is tossed around casually these days but when it comes to celebrity hair stylists, you can’t get much more word perfect than Sam McKnight. In the glossy world of magazine fashion shoots (including many covers for British Vogue), runway hair for major designers and styling for print ad campaigns for international luxury labels, McKnight – who has been at it since the ‘70s – is top of the heap.

So when the invitation came to hear him present hair trends for fall 2008 using Pantene Pro-V products—the U.K.-based McKnight is a global ambassador for the brand – I was there in a London minute. (And not without a minor conniption about my hair – would my blow-out from a few days ago hold up one more day?)

Sam McKnight cultivating one of his favourite looks

As a group of beauty editors and writers nestled into the screening room of a boutique hotel in Toronto’s Yorkville, three models in jewel-tone satin appeared on stage, each with variations of long hair. McKnight, seated and interviewed talk-show- style by his Pantene cohort Kathryn Davies, took us through the top trends and the Pantene products (he pronounced it pan-ten) that make them swing—including one of his runway backstage favourites, Ice Shine Hairspray, which, like today’s new-technology mousses, leave hair “soft and pliable,” he said. (He advised to go easy on serums, which should be used only lightly and on the ends.

McKnight seemed to have a particular love for tousled slightly wavy hair (long and loose in trend speak) – cue Gisele Bundchen in the Dolce & Gabbana print ad for The One fragrance – and hair that’s “done/undone” “finished/unfinished.” When a slide show flashed a group of edgier runway shots – hair roughened up a bit to actually bring out the frizz, he said, “not for anyone over 25.” But that’s the only time that age came up. Otherwise, he told me in an interview that he wasn’t into many rules around the right looks for different ages because the generations are blurring. “What’s more important is knowing what kind of hair you have” and keeping up the “shine and health” as you get older. (It didn’t go unnoticed by me that colleague Kathryn of indeterminate age sported a sleek classic bob.)

Other trends for fall: super sleek, made more pronounced with a middle part, and another look dubbed retro which some others might call red-carpet and which I’d call strictly a trip to the salon (deep side-parted controlled waves, a modern reincarnation of the ‘40s and ‘50s iconic shots of Ava Gardner and Marilyn Monroe which kicked off the presentation).

The presentation inspired me to take stab back at home at improving my own day-to-day version of loose and tousled with a little Pantene Silkening Silk Transformation Crème, a leave in conditioner that’s supposed to leave hair shiny and soft to the touch. It did. I worked it through wet hair and basically let my hair air-dry. I’ll never give up the (occasional) professional blow-out, but in between, I’m newly armed, and going with the wave.