Heritage

The Surprising Story Behind Princess Diana's Iconic Haircut

The '90s style that everyone copied almost never happened.
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Princess Diana's memorable '90s hairstyle inspired salon requests for a generation, but the short cut almost never happened, according to her longtime hairstylist Sam McKnight. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision that transformed Diana from beloved royal to style icon, and she looked even more beautiful because of it.

In his new book Hair by Sam McKnight ($55, amazon.com), the celebrity stylist talked about his first meeting with the Princess. He'd been hired for a British Vogue cover shoot in 1990, but had no idea who the important subject was. "We guessed it might be Margaret Thatcher, and then in walked Diana," he wrote.

For the portrait, McKnight tucked Diana's hair behind a tiara, and the Princess took a liking to it. "As she was leaving Diana asked, if I had free reign what would I do to her hair," he says. "I suggested cutting it short and she, to my surprise, agreed, and we did it there and then."

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The spontaneity behind the style reveals Diana's fearless attitude. In fact, her transition from "Shy Di" to "the People's Princess" is entirely evident in her ever-changing locks. See her hair evolution for yourself below:

[h/t People]

From: Good Housekeeping

1981

In the year of her wedding to Prince Charles, the 20-year-old chose a longer look with heavy, sideswept bangs.

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1984

With toddler William and baby Harry, the busy mom grew her hair out to shoulder-length and pinned back the front.

1989

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The late '80s saw plenty of poofy 'dos, and the Princess was no exception.

1990

On the iconic Vogue cover that McKnight styled, Diana's hair is sneakily tucked back under a tiara to fake a shorter length.

1992

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After the shoot, McKnight began seeing Diana every week when he was in London. "I would go in the morning to do her hair, and then sometimes go back in the evening if she had a function," he says. This style for a royal banquet (shortly before the end of her marriage) definitely embraces the curls.

1994

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McKnight's regular appointments also involved the princes. "I would cut their hair, too," the stylist says. "I remember Prince William responded in glee when I put gel in his hair for the first time." Here, Diana tried a shorn look for her new single life.

1995

The pair continued to experiment with her look in the mid-'90s. "I loved Diana looking more spontaneous," McKnight writes. "She even looked great coming out of the gym with freshly showered hair ... so for the Council of Fashion Designers Awards in New York, we decided she would try it out in public." The slicked-back style won plenty of praise.

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1997

In the last year of her life, the Princess looked as radiant and beautiful as ever with short, blonde bangs. It's no wonder her gorgeous look defined an entire decade.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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Caroline Picard
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