Hair Legend Sam McKnight Shares The Details Behind Princess Diana’s 1996 Met Gala Beauty Look

Photo credit: New York Daily News Archive
Photo credit: New York Daily News Archive

There’s no denying every Met Gala serves up endless epic beauty looks. But each year, there’s a select few standout hair and make-up creations that go down in sartorial history and change the landscape of beauty forever.

From Sam McKnight’s iconic hair for Princess Diana‘s only Met Gala moment in 1996, to Lisa Eldridge’s psychedelic Sixties make-up moment for Dua Lipa in 2019 and Adir Abergel’s rockabilly updo on Kristen Stewart just last year, we quizzed the best beauty pros in the business on the one Met Gala beauty look that truly made their careers…

Sam McKnight On…

Princess Diana’s Hair At The 1996 Met Gala

Photo credit: New York Daily News Archive
Photo credit: New York Daily News Archive

The Look

‘Diana accompanied her friend, fellow Brit Liz Tilberis (then Editor at Harper’s Bazaar) to the Meta Gala for the first time. The Princess opted to walk the red carpet, which royal guests at that time didn’t do, so it was a big deal as we knew all eyes would be on her.

‘The inspiration for her hair look was Nineties New York supermodel.’

The Outfit

‘The Princess wore a midnight blue silk and lace dress from John Galliano’s first collection for Dior. The dress and the hair looks complemented each other perfectly – both simple, understated and elegant. Famously the Princess also wore a pearl and sapphire choker which set the whole look off.’

Photo credit: Patrick McMullan
Photo credit: Patrick McMullan

The Impact

‘I’d been in the business a while (laughs) so I was at the top of my game at that time already, but working with the Princess was always special – one of the highlights of my career. This Meta Gala moment was particularly special though because all eyes, and cameras were on the Princess that evening. She was the star of the show and everyone was starstruck by her.’

How The Look Makes You Feel Now

‘Grateful. Grateful that I had the privilege of working with such an incredible, strong and warm woman – and grateful that I was there to help her feel and look amazing when she stepped out in front of the world’s cameras at such an important time in her life.’

Lisa Eldridge On…

Dua Lipa’s Make-Up At The 2019 Met Gala

Photo credit: Theo Wargo
Photo credit: Theo Wargo

The Look

‘I worked with Dua Lipa for the 2019 Met Gala and it was just such an incredibly fun experience. The theme that year was “Camp: Notes on Fashion”, so it felt like it was going to be very much a “go big or go home!” moment. Working collaboratively with stylist Lorenzo Posocco and hairstylist Anna Coffone, we took style references from the 1960s, exaggerating and spinning them with our own fresh, modern take.

‘The make-up look was very eye-centric with graphic lines of purple glitter and two and a half sets of false lashes, placed slightly away from the eyes to make her gaze appear as winged and wide-eyed as possible. It gave the most wonderfully ostentatious flutter that fit the flamboyant theme perfectly.’

The Outfit

‘Dua was being dressed by Donatella Versace and the whole team wanted to create a look that would complement her sublimely larger-than-life Atelier Versace outfit. The eyeliner worked in perfect synergy with the deep purples in the dress.’

The Impact

‘Working with Dua on this really cemented our relationship. After the Met Gala I started collaborating with her on all the looks for the Future Nostalgia album, including the make-up look for the album cover.’

How The Look Makes You Feel Now

‘My absolute favourite images are the candid shots that were taken towards the end of the hair and make-up process. Dua is looking into the mirror and myself and the hairstylist are making the final touches. There’s something iconic about these images and it makes me smile every time I see them.’

Jenny Longworth aka @jennynails On…

Harry Styles’ Nail Art At The 2019 Met Gala

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The Look

‘My all-time favourite nail look that I created for the Met Gala was for Harry Styles in 2019. The look was a multicoloured manicure combining Harry’s signature pastel mint green shade alongside a jet black varnish.’

The Outfit

‘Harry was dressed by Gucci and accompanied to the gala by Alessandro Michele, who was my major inspiration for the look. He loves to experiment with colours, mixing them up in a rock and roll style. I wanted to carry the essence of the nail that I created for the boys backstage at the Gucci show, onto Harry’s look.’

Photo credit: Gilbert Carrasquillo
Photo credit: Gilbert Carrasquillo

The Impact

‘The manicure got a lot of attention and was amazingly well received. The look went viral, with everyone who was anyone wanting to know what shade of green Harry was wearing. When I look back now I really believe it will stand out as one of the most iconic male manicures of the era.’

Adir Abergel On…

Kristen Stewart At The 2021 Met Gala

Photo credit: Sean Zanni
Photo credit: Sean Zanni

The Look

‘Given the theme, I wanted to pay homage to America’s glamour and the working girl of the 1940s and 1950s with a “Refined rockabilly style”. The definition of this iconic style was the reminder of strength and determination.

‘Rosie the Riveter was a reference in my mind as well as the impact and symbol of women’s independence. This is what Kristen is all about. This sex, this glamour, this magic colour… It’s her.’

The Outfit

‘When I saw Kristen’s Chanel suit, I immediately looked at references of Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Bettie Page, and those famous victory rolls that framed their faces for inspiration. Kristen embodies individuality, independence, strength and authenticity and I wanted to reflect that.’

Photo credit: Taylor Hill
Photo credit: Taylor Hill

How The Look Makes You Feel Now

‘It makes me proud to collaborate with people I live and to honour the fashion houses that worked tirelessly to make these magical garments. I’m a huge fan of art in all forms and I love the power that clothes gives and individual.’

Florrie White On…

Alexa Chung’s Make-Up At The 2018 Met Gala

Photo credit: ANGELA WEISS
Photo credit: ANGELA WEISS

The Look

‘I loved the look I did for Alexa Chung when she wore her eponymous bespoke brand in 2018. The inspiration was paintings of religious icons.’

The Outfit

‘Alexa’s outfit was so soft and practically virginal. I loved, and still love, the dichotomy of the pure white dress with the darkness of the lip and the flush of the cheek. She’s wearing a very light base as I love skin and probably spend more time prepping the skin than I do applying make-up.’

The Impact

‘Alexa’s look was pictured as one of the best make-up looks online – fabulous publicity!’

Photo credit: Rabbani and Solimene Photography
Photo credit: Rabbani and Solimene Photography

How The Look Makes You Feel Now

‘I still love it – it’s a timeless look that compliments her individuality and still feels modern. I’m looking forward to creating something next week as well – watch this space!’

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