Princess Diana's Hairstylist Shared the Surprising Reason She Cut Her Hair Short

Princess Diana's hairstylist, Sam McKnight, spoke to British Vogue about creating Diana's '90s pixie cut, after a spur-of-the-moment request by the royal.

  • Princess Diana's hairstylist, Sam McKnight, opened up to British Vogue about creating Diana's '90s pixie cut.
  • The cut was reportedly an impulse decision, after the royal asked McKnight, "What would you do with my hair if I just said 'do anything'?"
  • "So I just cut it off and we never looked back," the hairstylist recalled.

Princess Diana's '90s pixie cut is one of the most iconic hair looks of the decade—and it resulted from a spur-of-the-moment decision, her hairstylist Sam McKnight revealed. Speaking in the latest episode of British Vogue's "Vogue Visionaries" YouTube series, McKnight reflected on working with Diana, and the impulse haircut that made beauty history. 

"The first time I met the Princess of Wales was on a shoot," McKnight recalled. "This leggy blonde comes bouncing up the stairs, and sticks her hand out and introduces herself, smiled and made us all melt, and it was Princess Diana." At the time of the photoshoot, for British Vogue, Diana still had her longer, heavily feathered bob, which she'd sported throughout the '80s. "I made it look short under the tiara. I faked it a bit," McKnight said.

The shoot was "really lovely," the hairstylist shared. "We laughed so much—she was very funny." McKnight would later recreate Diana's iconic hairstyles on Emma Corrin, who plays the royal in The Crownas People reports

"At the end of the day, she said, 'What would you do with my hair if I just said 'do anything'?'" McKnight said. "I said, 'I would cut it all off and just start again,' because it was the beginning of the '90s and it was at the time when I was doing lots of shows and covers, and a lot of the girls had short hair, and we were moving from the big frou-frou '80s into the sharp, more androgynous, business chic of the '90s."

The royal's unexpected response? "'Well, why don't you just cut it off now?'" McKnight recalled. "So I just cut it off and we never looked back." And so the Diana pixie was born!

Emily Dixon
Morning Editor

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.