There's good hair, and then there's iconic hair. Princess Diana's cropped style falls into the latter, and there's a fascinating story behind that legendary hair. In his book, Hair by Sam McKnight, the stylist to the stars recalls the Vogue cover shoot that prompted Diana to go for the chop, the style she single-handedly popularized in the '90s.
The year was 1990 and the Scottish-born hair guru was on set with photographer Patrick Demarchelier without a clue as to who the subject was. "(Makeup artist) Mary Greenwell and I were told it was someone important, but we had no idea who,” McKnight writes. “We guessed it might be Margaret Thatcher, and then in walked Diana." McKnight and Diana hit it off, and before they knew it, the two inadvertently created the signature cut of one of the most influential figures in history.
"I made her hair look short in the tiara for the shoot, and she decided she liked it,” McKnight writes. Using a little hair stylist magic, he tucked her shoulder-length hair into the tiara (yes, the one Kate Middleton recently wore) to create the illusion of a shorter look. “As she was leaving Diana asked, if I had free reign what would I do to her hair. I suggested cutting it short and she, to my surprise, agreed, and we did it there and then." The rest, as they say, is history—and the beginning of a long relationship between the two.
McKnight writes he visited Diana weekly and continued to style some of her other standout beauty moments, like the slicked-back style she donned in 1995 at the CFDA ceremony. "I loved Diana looking more spontaneous," he writes. "During one particular portrait we worked on, Lord Snowdon had the inspired idea to photograph her with wet hair…And she looked incredibly chic. So for the Council of Fashion Designers Awards in New York, we decided she would try it out in public."