Beauty

Willow Smith's Hairstyle Honored This African Tribe at the 2024 Met Gala

Designed by hairstylist, Vernon Francois.

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Willow Smith's Hairstyle Honored This African Tribe at the 2024 Met Gala

Designed by hairstylist, Vernon Francois.

Willow Smith is rightfully carving her own lane in beauty and we’re here for it. The singer walked the Met Gala carpet alongside her brother Jaden Smith, rocking a larger-than-life hairstyle. The rest of her look was polished and demure, featuring a Dior Haute Couture custom tuxedo jacket, black tights and black pumps.

Smith teamed up with longtime collaborator and renowned hairstylist Vernon Francois to create the look that’s deeply seeded in African tribal culture. To prep and protect Smith’s hair before braiding and sculpting the style, Francois used OLAPLEX Nº.3 Hair Perfector and OLAPLEX Nº.6 Bond Smoother.

In an Instagram post, Francois details the cultural context behind the style, explaining that hair taps into the “intricate beauty of Mangbetu tribe hairstyles.” The Mangbetu tribe originated in the Congo in Central Africa and is known for its tradition of wrapping and elongating the head by framing the hair in voluminous shapes.

 

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A post shared by Vernon François (@vernonfrancois)

Francois describes his fascination with this cultural practice, stating that he “was completely captivated by the traditional craftsmanship of binding raffia, banana fiber or hair around the head and weaving natural hair into rattan frames.”

He further explains that it would take Mangbetu women nearly two days to successfully wrap their heads, which shows their dedication to their cultural beliefs as well as their grave attention to detail.

The result of his captivation was Smith gracing the Met Gala carpet in an intricate and intentional hairstyle that aims to merge tradition and craft. While celebrating “cultural diversity and [preserving] the legacy of the Mangbetu tribe.”

For more beauty news, check out our coverage of Charlotte Tilbury’s first-ever fragrance line.

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