The 2016 Met Gala brought Kenyan actress, Lupita Nyong’o out in a towering, triple-bun hairdo, created by Vernon Francios, who took inspiration from “women all over the continent” and Nina Simone to create it.
Unless you ask Vogue, who suggested Ms Nyong’o’s hair was “reminiscent” of Audrey Hepburn’s 1963 Vogue editorial look – an observation that left the Internet claiming cultural appropriation.
Though style critics and fans have been polarised in opinion on Lupita’s statement ‘do at the gala, Lupita wanted to make sure the inspiration is clear, with the actress taking to her Instagram to tag both Vogue and her hair stylist in a video that shows her ‘do alongside Nina Simone’s and fellow Africa women wearing the look, captioned;
“Hair inspiration. Check.”
Though Vogue‘s article didn’t exactly state Audrey’s look was in the inspiration, and did also point out Lupita had referenced Nina Simone, the actress’ followers have been busy praising the Kenyan’s response (or as one user called it, “classiest clapback EVER!”), while others question Vogue‘s intentions, commenting;
“I’m pretty sure they do things like that to get attention or a rise … Can’t possibly be that ignorant.”
In a highly competitive online landscape, where ‘click bait’ is definitely a thing, we at SPICE would still struggle with the idea that a publication as reputable as Vogue would deliberately aim to upset readers, just to gain traffic to their content. But at the same time, the article does include some observations that – due to the way they are worded – could spark debate. For example, in comparing Lupita and Audrey Hepburn, the author writes;
“…The similarities between the two ingenues extend beyond hair; both, like Hepburn’s famous incarnation of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, have mastered the art of transformation, from head to toe.”
In My Fair Lady, the character of Eliza Doolittle is a poor flower seller that is taught to speak “proper” English, and becomes ‘presentable’ in Edwardian London’s high society; not exactly the politest way to describe Lupita’s (or anyone’s) style evolution as she navigates her success and treads Hollywood’s red carpet scene.
While the jury’s out on what the magazine was hoping to achieve with the piece (asides make the most of their 1963 archives), at least – thanks to the actress’ classy clapback at Vogue’s Audrey Hepburn comparisons – the case of who inspired Lupita Nyong’o’s hairstyle has been closed.
Video & image source: @Lupitanyongo, Popsugar.com, Listas.20minutos.es