Arguably the most-anticipated film of 2018, Black Panther is hitting monumental strides in more ways than one. The movie–which boasts an A-list celebrity cast of Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett, Chadwick Boseman, and Michael B. Jordan–not only perpetuates the epitome of #Blackmagic, but also introduces many audiences the variety, and beauty, of natural hair.
Camille Friend, the head hairstylist for the film, sat down with The Cut to discuss the direction the department took to ensure a celebration of natural Black hair. Firstly, there was an intentional ode, and attribution, to indigenous hairstyles straight from the Motherland. “For the ‘traditional’ look, we used inspiration from the Zulu tribe, the Maasai tribe, and the Hima tribe,” Friend told The Cut, adding that they also incorporated modern styles and aspects of the Afropunk movement to create different looks for each of the five tribes in the story. Attribution of where natural hairstyles originated from is extremely important, given today’s cultural discussions of appropriation of Black hair from campaigns to international runways.
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Perhaps the most beautiful thing about showcasing the various forms of natural hair in this movie is the care the department took with each actor’s individual tresses. Unfortunately, there is a lack of hairstylists and makeup artists in Hollywood who specialize in textured hair, so seeing the true dedication, even down to rules of how the hair dries and prep for more complex styles, was admirable. Friend explained, “We shampooed, conditioned, and did oil treatments in the trailer […] We liked everyone to dry naturally. Occasionally we used diffusers, but most of the time I really tried not to.”
In the movie, you’ll see everything from Michael B. Jordan’s epic dreadlocks, to Letitia Wright’s beautiful twist outs, and Lupita’s signature look which Friend coined ‘Wakanda knots’. “What we coined as the ‘Wakanda knot’ is basically where we took small individual sections of hair and mixed those sections with Paul Mitchell’s Foaming Pomade, and then we twisted her hair down into itself to create that twist knot,” Friend told The Cut. So pretty much, this look is easily recreatable right from the comfort of your home!
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Of course, none could forget Angela Bassett’s snowy-white dreadlocks. “All of the dreads were handmade, and they were blended with four different colors,” Friend noted. “Once those were made — there were about 110 pieces of individual dreads — we sent those to the wigmaker [Natascha Ladek], and the wigmaker inserted them in the wig. That whole process took about a month.”
Representation matters on the big screen, even when it comes down to seeing all textures on leading characters and roles. We are so excited to see Black Panther and the catalytic effect it’ll have on the open discussion of showing all types of hair. Undeniably, there is no one ‘look’ to Blackness and Black hair, and it is important to show that. “I don’t think Black hair has ever been seen in a movie like this,” Friend said. “It was an honor to do it and to have an open forum to design and take hairstyling to the next level[…] Black hair is versatile and it’s beautiful. With the right products, anything can be re-created.”
SOURCE: THE CUT