I hate to admit it, but I never really saw my natural hair during wash days growing up. By three-years-old, I had a relaxer and was committed to Sunday hot comb rituals, where my grandma warmed the sizzling tool on the stovetop to press out my roots. In middle school, extensions – haphazardly glued to my scalp—become my staple look to blend in with my predominantly white competitive cheer team. When I got to high school, lace front wigs were plastered across the front of my hairline twice a month, so I could always have the latest hairstyles.
Growing up in the South in a family of cosmetologists, weaves felt like a rite of passage. There was a pervasive internalized belief that Black natural hair was unmanageable, had no versatility, and couldn’t exist without being incessantly straightened. With every after-hours hair appointment in my family’s living room and 5 A.M. maintenance routine ahead of school, I wrestled with the concept that my natural hair was unworthy.
When I got to college three years ago, I experienced the reckoning many Black women face with their natural hair: The infamous big chop. In my boyfriend’s college apartment, we took a pair of clippers and buzzed my hair down to a close-cropped cut. My neglected strands and years of exhausting insecurities fell in piles across the floor.
Since then, my natural hair journey has come with its share of mental roadblocks. I relented from intimidating consumerism, which suggests that natural hair requires shelves of products. I realized how I’ve used protective styles to conceal rather than to protect, and had to shake my belief that my short 4C hair is the “ugly stage” of achieving a sky-scraping ‘fro. Wash days at the kitchen sink, often accompanied by my boyfriend’s reassuring assistance, have become a revolutionary act of self-love and a reminder that I can vault every challenge in this new phase of my life.
Below, the tried-and-true products that have helped me along the winding journey of loving my hair in its natural state.
I have low porosity hair, and learned that saturation and absorption of moisture is difficult along my hair shafts, which was paramount to understanding my wash day routine. The cleansing properties of most shampoos were often too harsh and left my hair feeling dry, even post-deep conditioning. Atop my stove, I melt an eyeballed mixture of shea butter and aloe vera gel fresh from my household plant. I apply the warm mixture to my hair and detangle it from tip to root with a Pattern Beauty’s wide-tooth comb. Overnight, the concoction lathers my strands to revitalize my natural oils and creates the perfect barrier to maintain luster and sheen for the next day’s wash.
I quickly discovered during shampoo sessions that I am, indeed, what my mother would call “tender-headed.” Years of unaddressed split ends mean my coils have been weakened and are susceptible to tangling into knots. This is where positive affirmations come in, since my knots trigger old emotions that make me feel that my hair is unnecessarily demanding. I’m often reminded of the common Southern saying “You wash clothes, you shampoo hair.” In essence, it means that hair is complex and requires its own method of care.
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Plus Size Model James Corbin on the Power of Walking in Fashion Week
The Fashion Month runways have historically shunned size inclusivity, but the tide is changing slowly but surely. Now, models of all different body shapes appear on the catwalks. Progress in the menswear space, however, has been even more stagnant: This season has seen few plus-sized male models sport the new collections. But during London Fashion Week earlier this month, S.S. Daley’s spring 2023 show featured several plus-size male models—one of which was James Corbin, a 23-year-old London-based model on the rise. Below, Corbin sounds off on the power that came with him walking fashion week, and where he hopes fashion can head in the future.
My family’s Caribbean and Kenyan, but I’m born and bred in London. I grew up in Brixton, around Caribbean and Jamaican people. I never thought of fashion as something that I could be a part of. I’ve always been a big kid, so I thought I had no business thinking about anything in front of the camera.
In the middle of lockdown, I got a DM from a casting director to do a shoot for Vogue Italia. I didn’t think it was real. I was like, I don’t look like a model. It was a shoot about happiness, but I remember having imposter syndrome. We got the shot within a minute. When it came out, it had such a big reaction—it ignited a feeling that I’ve never felt before. I felt useful. I realized that I have a purpose here. It wasn’t just plus-size people I was getting messages from: It was men and women who’ve also had issues with how they see their body.
That shoot led to me reaching out to modeling agencies, and I was just honest. I said, “I want to see a change within fashion.” I got through to the director of [my agency] Supa, and I got signed. I needed somebody who was willing to be an industry groundbreaker—a trailblazer. I immediately started working with Tim Walker and Charles Jeffrey Loverboy; I got the front cover for Perfect magazine within the first few months. I was so grateful, but I was learning along the way that brands still aren’t making clothes for me in my size. When I started asking when I could do runway, I was told, ‘You can’t, because there’s no clothes being made for you.’
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‘Supreme Models’ Tracks the History of the Black Model in Fashion
Thankfully, the days of one or two Black models being the fashion industry’s “It Girl” are gone. There are a growing number of marquee names walking down the runways: Adut Akech, Duckie Thot, Precious Lee, and many others. Sadly, this was not always the case. How did the Black model finally get embraced, and celebrated, by fashion brands and publications?
A YouTube original docuseries from Vogue and The Machine, a production company founded and led by The September Issue director R.J. Cutler, tracks the cultural history of the Black model in fashion. As journalist and author Marcellas Reynolds poignantly explains it, “The history of the Black model—specific to fashion—is actually the history of the Black person in the United States.”
The six-part series is an adaptation of Reynolds’ bestselling book Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion, which celebrates these figures through essays, interviews, and photos. The series is rich with personal conversations and testimonials from enduring trailblazers like Iman, Bethann Hardison, Pat Cleveland, Joan Smalls, and more. Fashion industry icons and talent also make appearances, including Anna Wintour, Edward Enninful, Zendaya, Olivier Rousteing, and Zac Posen.
There is a focus on shining light on under-discussed pioneering moments for Black voices in fashion. For example: Industry experts reflect on the inspirational ascent of Donyale Luna (who was the first woman of color to ever appear on a Vogue cover). Bethann Hardison provides a firsthand account of what it was like to take part in the historic 1973 fashion show Battle of Versailles. Iman discusses launching a, at the time, revolutionary POC-focused makeup line in 1994 after continually encountering makeup artists and beauty brands that lacked foundation shades suitable for darker skin tones.
Supreme Models, which is part of Youtube’s Black Voices Fund initiative, is a riveting and necessary education on the evolution of meaningful inclusion of POC women in fashion and, simultaneously, the world writ large.
Watch episode one of Supreme Models below:
Read the full article here
Chloé’s Rave-Inspired Metallic Eye Takes Less Than a Minute to Recreate
In Holli Smith’s chair, Angel Prost sat as the hairstylist smoothed Carol’s Daughter Healthy Hair Butter through the lower half of her bleached lengths. “Honestly, they just rereleased it—you’re only allowed to buy five at a time,” Smith says of the cult-favorite product, which is regularly sold out. It’s Smith’s solution for creating a slick style with ends that move with the beat. On top, Oribe Volumista gripped hair into a side-parted bang that looked so cool there were already discussions of recreating it for the afterparty. The products, combined, created a “tight” look with “more edge” than floofy, volumized, extension-enhanced hair (continuing the thin hair revival that started on New York’s Eckhaus Latta runway.) Some models had center parts, some had braids, and according to Smith, “side parts need to be re-examined.” Today, she proved that flipping around your style and mixing it up can be the best way to extend a cut. “What I’m trying to do is show how you play with a look—people don’t know how to do that because we’ve been in this raw zone for five years of naturalness, or they get the cut, they get the color, they have extensions, and they never think to play with it.” Treat hair like makeup, she says, and try something for a night out.
And doing exactly that, makeup artist Hannah Murray delivered DIY “extreme silver eye paint” transformations, which turned the old-school Chloé aesthetic on its head. What’s more, is that the look can be accomplished in no time at all. “It takes two seconds, and needs to feel like they’ve done it themselves,” Murray said of the swipes of unbranded silver theatrical paint that she pressed into the inner corners of eyes and swiped onto the outer edges. “There’s a hint of rebelliousness and toughness,” she said. (There’s also an abstract-painting moment happening in Paris, with models at Anne Isabella in silver eye makeup that read like a sheer mask, and chalk-white scatters across faces at Caroline Hu) To chill out icy blondes even more, Murray bleached their eyebrows, and eight models got a grungier, night-after-the-party silver eye, while others like South Sudanese model Bigoa, received glossy lids. Everyone, though, had a strobe cream base of Bobbi Brown Bare Glow Extra Illuminating Moisture Balm to perfect skin, while no one wore mascara, Murray notes—because “that would make it too pretty.”
Read the full article here
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