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Promotion – Schwarzkopf Professional

Gossip Girl meets grunge was the aesthetic for the KNWLS A/W24 show at London Fashion Week. 

Mustafa Yanaz

Mustafa Yanaz

Bringing an Upper East Side flair to the runway, the inspiration behind the KNWLS A/W24 hair look was to follow a chic New Yorker on her journey from one party to the next. Mustafa Yanaz took the helm as lead hair stylist, delivering his alternative, cutting edge to match KNWLS’s bold fashion statements. Charlotte Knowles and Alexandre Arsenault, the duo behind the brand, are known for their assertive interpretation of femininity, blending elements of danger and allure. The brand adopts a rugged, practical approach, crafting garments that serve as protective armour while redefining contemporary women’s fashion.

“I didn’t use any brushes or combs,” said Mustafa backstage. “I always do everything with my hands because I want it as natural as possible. For the KNWLS look, imagine an Upper East Side New York girl with beautiful hair, she’s going to her second party and ties her hair in a knot – she looks like she’s partied already – but her hair is still shiny and healthy.”

Hair was tied in a knot at the nape, with strands escaping at the front to frame the face. Undone texture with an underlying chicness, the result was equal parts cool and sophisticated. The main product used backstage was THE MOUSSE from SESSION LABEL from Schwarzkopf Professional, which Mustafa applied on the roots, and a little bit through the ends for grip. At the end, he used THE FLEXIBLE, which Mustafa describes as a “really great hairspray.”

He adds: “I work in session styling, and it’s really important to have the right products backstage and that’s why I use SESSION LABEL – they’re beautiful products for every hairstyle.”

SESSION LABEL from Schwarzkopf Professional is a comprehensive, professional styling range that is specifically designed to meet the varied demands of session stylists. With fourteen versatile products – each with a multitude of benefits developed to help hairdressers truly #CRAFTTHEDIFFERENCE – SESSION LABEL empowers stylists such as Nick Irwin and Mustafa Yanaz to achieve any look, texture, or finish required for the runway and beyond.

Find out more about SESSION LABEL from Schwarzkopf Professional.

Charlotte Knowles and Alexandre Arsenault,

Charlotte Knowles and Alexandre Arsenault, founders of KNWLS

Quick-fire questions with Charlotte and Alexandre

Describe the KNWLS aesthetic. Is there something that represents your work aesthetically and has that changed throughout your career?
Charlotte: There are four things which sum up the brand – sportswear, craft, corsetry, and alternative culture.
Alexandra: We’re trying to create a new wardrobe for the woman of our time – a woman who lives both digitally and physically. We aim to subvert the idea of femininity through counterculture or taking old ideas and transforming them into new ones.

C: It’s always über-feminine but with an edge.

What were the top three references for this season’s collection?
C: We were inspired by power dressing and ’80s glamour, as well as understandable luxury, because that’s where we’re trying to take the brand.

A: We wanted the women to be kind of ready for anything. We had a lot of weight on our shoulders at the end of 2023, then we were quite hopeful for 2024 but it started with a chaotic energy, so we were trying to get women ready for this. That’s why there’s reference points of utilitarianism or snakeskin and camo – like a form of armour and protection.

Where do you look to for inspiration?
C: Everywhere and anywhere! I often get really inspired by objects and materials, as well as vintage clothes. I feel like Alexandra is quite inspired by culture and music.
A: We spend a lot of time on Instagram and seeing the girls wearing the brand. Even the girls around the studio wearing it, or friends and other people, it’s a thing that people maybe didn’t have that much access to in the past. Now it’s always bombarding us. So, the diversity is quite inspiring.

 We adore your signature pieces, such as the iconic separates, but how do you feel this collection has evolved from the last?
C: It’s just about refining and elevating the image of the brand and appealing to a broader audience. In the past, I felt like the brand had been associated with youth and appealed a lot to a younger generation, but this season it’s more elegant and refined.
A: I think the goal was to make it a bit more familiar as well, a bit more understandable as to what people perceive as luxury, using cashmere wool and more bold colours that are understandable to a wider audience. It is more mature – we’re growing up as well. There’s always going to be this connection with youth but we also wanted to show that power, strength, control and being confident is not exclusive to the new generation that’s connected online. It shows that KNWLS can appeal to different age groups, different cultures and different body types… it doesn’t matter who you are. It’s about power and strength.

You’re collaborating with people all the time. How do you stay true to your boundaries and personal style?
A: Every season we try to change it up, so that the clothes become recognisable to what the brand represents. Hopefully this is what has made it possible to bring in people, and that they understand it, in their own way. They understand the language of it. You know, like, Mustafa just got the brand.

Video by Tom Gorst and Alex Barron-Hough

KNWLS runway

What has the creative process been like working with Mustafa?
C: He was amazing to work with. He’s such an icon and it was an honour to be able to get to work with him. I felt like he just brought that kind of alternative grunge edge to the collection, which brought in more of that KNWLS energy. He really got it from the offset.
A: He’s very sweet. Immediately he said ‘let’s chat on WhatsApp. I’ll send you some tests!’ He’s the first hairstylist we’ve worked with who has brought in people and tested things beforehand, then sent us pictures. He was very involved and excited about it. It’s not a last-minute thing where you must decide in the hair test in 30 minutes. He already tested things out – some things didn’t work, some things worked. So, it was quite amazing working with him.

There have been some incredible accomplishments in your career to date, but what has been the one standout moment so far?
C: Probably the collaboration with Jean Paul Gaultier or dressing Doja Cat for the Grammys – she epitomises who the KNWLS woman is, and it was a pleasure working with her and her stylist Brett. Jean Paul was a big milestone for us, because he was such a huge inspiration growing up, and is one of the designers who inspired me to want to do fashion design. That was a ‘pinch me’ moment.