Fashion & Beauty / Collections Digest

Sam McKnight's Chanel Métiers d'Arts Braids

AnOther speaks to Sam McKnight, the man behind the striking braids at this week's Métiers d'Arts 'Paris Edimbourg' show in Scotland...

Chanel Metiers D'Arts, Linlithgow Palace, 2012
Chanel Metiers D'Arts, Linlithgow Palace, 2012 Courtesy of Sam McKnight

There are countless things one can do with hair, yet braiding must be the most satisfying and striking look. Think of all of those iconic plait-wearers – Dorothy in Wizard of Oz, Princess Leia, Bo Derek in 10, Heidi, Wednesday Adams, Pippi Longstocking, Boy George. And all of the fantastic fashion shows braids courtesy of designers including Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano and Miu Miu.

Hair braiding is an ancient art and can be traced back to in 3500 BC in West Africa where the different and often complex designs signified the social status, age group and village a girl came from. In renaissance Europe, French braiding was practiced to keep the hair as clean as possible when it wasn't always an option to bathe. In the Americas, Aztec women would take strips of colorful cloth and braid them into their hair, winding the plaits around their heads. Hair braiding in Egypt was done on wigs worn by Egyptian royalty.

This week's Chanel Métiers d'Arts 'Paris Edimbourg' show, which took place at Linlithgow Palace in Scotland, featured standout braids courtesy of Sam McKnight. The show's breathtaking location was the place where where Mary, Queen of Scots, was born almost exactly seven centuries ago.  AnOther caught up with the legendary hair stylist to discuss the show's inspirations and his plait preferences.

What was the inspiration behind the hair at the show?
Karl Lagerfled sent me paintings of Mary, Queen of Scots, and photos of African Princesses, so I fused the two together and came up with a modern medieval punk. Look 2 was a wild romantic Chanel Boy braid.

"Karl Lagerfled sent me paintings of Mary, Queen of Scots and photos of African Princesses so I fused the two together and came up with a modern medieval punk"

How long did each girl take?
The Mary Queen of Scots look took 45 minutes for each girl. But it was a very snug 45 minutes as the girls had to snuggle their heads in pillows to allow us to get the braids in the back of the head. The Chanel Boy Braids took 10 minutes.

What's your favourite style of plait?
The Chanel Boy Braid.

Do you have a plait hero?
Stevie Wonder.

Text by Laura Bradley