Stephen Knoll is thorough in his sartorial eloquence. He composes each and every one of his outfits with such meticulous deliberation, rounding them up with flourishes of color, choice accessories and ease of bearing. I’ve known Stephen for a while and have never seen him less-than-well-put-together; a rarity because even some of the best dressed sometimes is guilty of sartorial neglect, say.
Key to his smart outfits is a keen understanding and appreciation for fit, color combination and quality fabric. He appears, almost always in perfectly proportioned clothes with unexpected winning color combinations and exquisite fabrics.
Born in Wisconsin, Stephen was already interested in hair design from early childhood. At age 11, he was coloring and cutting. By high school, already pushing existing limits of creativity, he was styling the hair of women in his hometown. That he would move to New York was inevitable.
After working for a brief period in NY’s top salons, Stephen began a flourishing freelance career, which led him to style for some of the most prestigious advertising campaigns, as well as editorial work appearing in magazines such as Vogue, Bazaar, InStyle, Cosmo and countless other.
He established his eponymous salon in1991 and became one of the few contemporary hair stylists active as both a salon and session stylist. Today, Stephen continues to work in his salon and as a photo session stylist, as well as traveling in the United States and abroad to work with his celebrity clients and other clients of luminary status.
A gifted talent, one of the best hairstylists, Mr. Knoll is deft in handling of hair and thoroughly artistic in his understanding of the fundamental role that respective facial structures play in the realization of the perfect hairstyle. For each face is unique and demands unique approach. Acutely cognizant of this, Stephen never resorts to a formulaic “signature style” or a one-style-fits-all approach. Result, his work has no specific style, as say, a Vidal Sassoon look of the 1960s, rather, Mr. Knoll’s work has a wide breadth of stunning looks that invariably commands attention.
His clients include such luminaries as Drew Barrymore, Kathy Bates, David Bowie, Mariah Carey, Cindy Crawford, Celine Dion, Richard Gere, Jerry Hall, Anne Hathaway, Anne Heche, Iman, Mick Jagger, Ashley Judd, Elle Macpherson, Debra Messing, Ian Schrager, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brooke Shields, Maria Shriver, Blaine Trump, etc.
A 30 year veteran of hair artistry and image maker, the next ten days charts some of Stephen Knoll’s style and sensibility.
Iké Udé /June 4th/ 2012
interviews/photographs: iké udé
Hair Stylist/Owner Stephen Knoll Salon
President Stephen Knoll New York Hair Care Collection
Distribution, United States/Japan.
New York City
Blue, Baby/soft blue and beautiful colors in general
Favorite Fashion Designer:
Thom Browne; tailoring wise I appreciate London tailors. The original Balenciaga and Ralph Rucci.
Favorite Shoe/Accessories Designer:
I like John Lobb (shoes) Lora Piana (gloves/scarves); First and foremost Zagliani bags by Mauro Orietti, and Lambertson & Truex (bags)
Hermes, Un Jardin en Maediterrean.
Favorite Stylish Film:
Grace Kelly Films, especially, Rear Window; Original Oceans starring five Rat Packers: Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop; And James Bond Films from the 1960s.
In New York: Waverly Inn, New York Grill at the Park Hyatt Hotel
Usua Casa Hotel, Brazil
Asaba Ryokan, Izu, Japan.
Love Istanbul Turkey; Tokyo.
I don’t really drink, Tequilla, Corazos, but mostly viollete tea from Ladurée.
Who is your style icon?
Sammy Davis Jr. Cary Grant and Elvis circa 1950s thru early 1950s.
What item of clothing would you rather starve for?
Bordeaux-colored suede shoes from John Lobb shoes.
What is your overall impression of how people dress in general?
People need to be more concerned with the way they look. The world is way too casual. New York, is one of the most inspiring places where people dress…is one of the best places to be inspired by people’s wardrobe, because of the variety, freedom, varied ethnicity, international community. One of the most disappointing places is Paris, except middle—America.
And what do you recommend that they do otherwise?
I really follow Diana Vreedland decree: “when in doubt overdress.” I live by that! And think that the whole world should abide by that.
PICTURE: #1 IN TEN ACTS
SPECIAL GUEST INTERVIEW:
STEPHEN KNOLL TALKS ABOUT HIS 1st OUTFIT:
What items did you use to compose this particular outfit?
Cashmere windowpane trousers – Oxford clothing
Shoes – John Loebb
Socks – baby blue cashmere, Bergdorf
Shirt – Ascot Chang custom made
Diamond cufflinks – Kimberly McDonald
Watch – Gold Omega,
Tie – wool tie, Drakes of London
Wool and suede sweater – Prada
How did you find the various items that you are wearing?
Things that I pick up on my travels; when I see something that strikes me…. I don’t shop on purpose.
How did you arrive at the decision to compose such an outfit?
First the sweater and tie and everything else fell into place
Where do you normally shop for clothes and accessories?
Lord Willy’s, Thom Browne, Ascot Chang’ (summer shirts from Club Monaco to Etro); United Arrows in Japan.
How much role does money or the lack thereof play in one’s endeavor to dress very smart or beautifully?
Money has nothing to do with one’s style. A lack of money can force one to be more creative and stylish. Money can allow one to purchase fine quality, fine tailoring, and luxury quality fabrics—especially in today’s age. Above all, fit is key.
What special recommendation would give somebody who admires your style but don’t know where or how start?
You have to know your proportion and seek to find what is most flattering to your structure. It is all proportion!
Name six famous personages—past or present—who you would invite over for dinner/drinks because of their impeccable individualistic elegance?”
Sammy Davis Jr.
As a result of your style, what is your impression of how you are generally perceived in public?
I don’t really know and I hope that I don’t offend anyone and if I do it’s too bad.
And how would rather the public perceive you?
Clean, groomed and colorful!
Presently, what do you think accounts for the poor appearances in how people generally dress or don’t dress?
People have become generally lazy, have poor negating attitude, and suffer from real lack of pride in general. There’s less respect for one another and therefore less respect for oneself. In general everyone likes to be easy and wants things handed to them.
In retrospect have you ever worn something that you now find particularly regrettable?
Yes, mid-riff shirt from the 1970s.
In the end, do you dress to: (a.) please others, (b.) please yourself or (c.) hopefully be in agreement with everybody?
I dress for myself!