Lily Donaldson’s Flying Hair

A Slow-mo Session with Sam McKnight

Internationally renowned hairstylist Sam McKnight teases out the unseen calm in two seconds of a thrashing blonde mane in this slow-motion film shot by photographer Matthew Donaldson. As his model daughter Lily spins 360 degrees, her hair buffeted by four wind machines, Donaldson stretches two seconds into two hypnotic minutes, capturing every exquisite movement at 1,000 frames per second. In a world where technology is increasingly maligned for encouraging us to hide from reality, there is a welcome irony here: Using the super-high definition Phantom Gold HD—a camera initially developed for monitoring missile flights—Donaldson distills a hyper-real tranquility. The film is also a paean to Ara Gallant, one of the great session hairdressers of the 1960s and the inventor of the “flying hair” technique. “I love using wind on hair, and I love anything to do with the outdoors—like windy beaches and mountains,” McKnight says. Not that nature is required for coveted bouncy locks. “The two girls who could move their hair without any wind machines were Linda Evangelista and Yasmin Le Bon,” he reminisces. “They were legendary for the ability to shake their hair even slightly and it could fill two pages.” Working with make-up artist Val Garland and a suitably dreamy soundtrack by Zero 7, McKnight and Donaldson have created a film with a poignant message: Life may be ephemeral and precious—but isn’t it beautiful?
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Conversations (8)

  • Kodachrome 25
    nice job!
  • Kodachrome 25
    nice job!
  • photo gifts
    i have a little scare. but really beautiful <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
  • xmdelorenzo
    I love this so much!
    • Posted By xmdelorenzo
    • June 29, 2011 at 3:15PM
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  • MalibuIngeue
    The video cut off after the "Nowness Presents".
    • Posted By MalibuIngeue
    • January 24, 2011 at 5:32PM
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  • gayatri
    absolutely amazing. love the sound.
    • Posted By gayatri
    • November 18, 2010 at 2:16PM
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  • adrianr
    • Posted By adrianr
    • October 15, 2010 at 5:34PM
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  • glee
    This film is absolutely beautiful!
    • Posted By glee
    • August 24, 2010 at 4:04PM
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