Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Q & A with Expert Hairstylist Pearson Knight


It’s almost that time of year again! In just a few short weeks Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week will be upon us once again. As we have in the past, A Girl’s Gotta Spa! will be there to recap beauty trends and try to get you as much behind the scenes info. as possible!

I thought it would be fun to let you in on the inner workings of an expert hairstylist working the shows at fashion week, and who better than my friend Pearson Knight who has recapped trends for us the last few seasons? Pearson works with the Aveda team at some pretty rockin shows. So enjoy some of his backstage photos that he shared with me and hear all of the fun and interesting tidbits of the intense and exciting week that is Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week!

Shannon: When assigned to do hair for runway shows at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, how much notice are you given regarding which designers you’ll be working with?
Pearson: Fashion Week is such a crazy venue, week and experience that it doesn’t surprise me everything is done on the fly. I usually get my schedule for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week just a few weeks prior to the shows. The schedule, teams and times are constantly changing as we get closer to go time! There are some staple shows every season which gives a chance to get to know the designers style more intimately to help produce better results creatively. Although, having new designers on the schedule is always exciting and challenging.

Shannon: How far in advance does the lead hairstylist prep you on the hairstyle for a particular runway show?
Pearson: I have been fortunate to have been the Lead Stylist, Assistant to Lead and Team Member. The prepping of the team is done on the first model that shows up for the show as it starts. No pre-knowledge goes beyond the Lead, Assist and Designer until go time! 

Shannon: How many tests do you go through and is the designer present?
Pearson: I have been on numerous tests with many designers and each one is different. Usually two days before the show, but the designer is almost always very present and involved in the hair testing. Some designers have been very particular on how it should look or an idea for the vision of their show. Other designers have given total room creatively for the ability to drive a look. Some designers have loved the first look done on the test model and others have been a grueling few hours of banging out look after look trying to find that perfect match for their collection. I have also led some shows where the test schedule was canceled and the looks were created on the spot at show time. Got to be ready!

Shannon: Runway shows at fashion week notoriously start late. Has a runway show ever run so far behind that it intersected with another show you needed to be backstage for?
Pearson: I have definitely needed to be at more than one place at a time during fashion week. Somehow with the teams being amazing it always works out even as stressful as it can get in the moment. So much goes into starting on time. The make up prep, hair prep, wardrobe, the run through, the show previous’ holding crowd and models, models being on time, as well as snow storms and traffic. We share 4 hours together to get all that done!

Shannon: Can you describe to the readers a typical day backstage during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week?
Pearson: As soon as production has the space ready and we can enter the backstage we get set up. We typically eat a little of the catered food and meet each other as we wait like hunters for the first model to start the prep frenzy. As soon as the first model arrives the Lead Stylist will do the look as the team gathers around to learn the look. Usually we set up in teams of 2 or 3 stylist per model to get the work done as fast as possible. Everything usually goes smooth as butter for a while as we laugh and enjoy the work. Then production people start yelling for first looks and we have to stop what we are doing and let the models go. You only hope the model finds you so you can finish what is running around backstage half done. The Lead starts to feel the pressure as most of the press starts to file in right about the same time production tells us Marc Jacobs’ show ran late and 7 models will show up 5 minutes before they walk. The press interviews, photographers and camera crews are filling the space as we get cramped while production people are constantly yell how many minutes we have left. If you’re anything like me, you live for the pressure of perfection and precision in the final 20 minutes before show time. It is so intense!

Finally the models head to wardrobe and begins the line up as we run around doing last minute touch ups as they get dressed and line up. The Lead is right up front typically with the designer being the last to overlook the creation before it hits the runway. The 3 hours of prep is done and the show starts. There is an energy backstage that is indescribable the whole time, but especially right when it ends. Live it, love it!

Shannon: Of all of the designers you have worked with, who has been the most creative when it comes to hair and why?
Pearson: This is a tough question because some designers are more aggressive and some more elegant, but hands down my favorite show is Rodarte every season. The sisters are so creative and make sure the runway, make up and hair are just as amazing as their collection. It is always so fresh!

Shannon: Who is one designer that you have not yet worked with, but would like to?
Pearson: Although I unfortunately will not be able to meet him, I would love to work for Alexander McQueen. My favorite. He is brilliant for so many reasons.

Shannon: You always give A Girl’s Gotta Spa! readers a great hair trends recap each season, this time we’d love a prediction! What do you predict the look will be for AW11/12?
Pearson: I predict for Fall/Winter 2011/2012 we will continue to see a lot of texture in hair. The trend of wave, curl and natural texture in daily wear is still on the rise. The blend of 40′s styling with 80′s texture and size was great, but we will move more towards modern appeal all the way. This runway season will be a mix of hair being styled up creatively with big texture and some naturally down staying soft. Looking forward to a great season.

Be sure to follow Pearson Knight on Twitter: @1Pearson1

Like him on Facebook: Facebook.com/PKHair
Check out his website: www.PKHair.com

To keep up with all of our fashion week ramblings like us and follow us, as well!
Facebook: A Girl’s Gotta Spa!
Twitter: @AGirlsGottaSpa @ShannonNelson and @GailSLewis

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, beauty interview, Fashion Week Beauty, Hair Care Leave a comment

About the author

Shannon Smyth

Shannon began A Girl's Gotta Spa! beauty blog in 2005 to morph her love of beauty and in educating women on what truly works and what does not. She has been featured in Glamour, VOGUE Australia, Woman's World, Nail Pro, SHAPE and on WBRE's PA Live. She is a go-to source for social media consulting when it comes to beauty brands.

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