How Beyoncé’s Long-Time Hairstylist Created the Head-Turning Hair of ‘Black Is King’

How Beyoncé’s Long-Time Hairstylist Created the Head-Turning Hair of ‘Black Is King’

Bantu Knots in a still from the song “Already.” Farinah says, “The word Bantu translates to the “people” in 400 African languages, and was originated by the Zulu people of South Africa. Zulu married women, senior women and men wore topknots to indicate their marital status. The look can also be known as ‘Nubian Knots.’ The middle knot shown here reflects the Egyptian ankh symbol which means Life.”

Photo: Courtesy Parkwood Entertainment / Disney Plus.

“This is a time for us to educate,” he adds. “This is a time for us to embrace culture.” The release and promotion of Black Is King has him on cloud nine, he says. “I’m living my purpose. I always wanted to make a movie, and if I was to do a movie, I wanted to do a movie with Beyoncé in it. It’s a movie that inspires many cultures around the world. It’s for everyone because it’s so educational.”

As for those waterfall-length box braids that trailed the ground while Beyoncé stood atop a ladder during the song, “Water”? “Beyoncé had this idea for the longest time,” Farinah explains. With the help of lead hairstylists Kim Kimble and Kendra Harvey, a team of six worked on the 30-foot-long braids over the course of three days. “It was the heaviest piece on set,” Farinah says, and possibly the most dangerous. “We couldn’t make a mistake or accidentally let go of the braids,” while Beyoncé was walking up the ladder “because it could’ve really messed up her neck and truly hurt her.” But, he notes with relief, “at the end of the day, we made it work. We executed, and it’s a statement piece in the movie.”

A still from song “Water,” of Beyoncé wearing the 30-foot-long braids—the heaviest piece on set—that took three days to create, thanks to the help of six braiders.

Photo: Courtesy Parkwood Entertainment / Disney Plus.

Surprisingly, the hair was developed separately from the film’s fashion. “The hair connected with the fashion naturally and everything made love to one another on set,” Farinah says. “That was the most amazing moment. Everything was complementary with every outfit.” Farinah attributes this natural synergy to the film team’s longtime working relationships. He and stylist Zerina Akers, for example, worked together on the Formation music video, all the way back in 2016.

Farinah hopes that the intentional styling in Black Is King will inspire “Black women to feel free to wear their hair however they want to, and to not worry about being judged or what someone else would say,” Farinah says. “To be free, and set yourself free. To embrace your beauty, your texture, and to wear your crown proudly.”

Styled by Zerina Akers, this headpiece is by Melissa Simon-Hartman. “Often people have a vision of a Victorian Queen when referring to a Queen costume, so I decided to put a twist on this by incorporating elements that relate to cultures that observe ancient faith. 

The intricately braided headpiece was inspired by the beautiful braided crownlike hairstyles originating from various parts of Africa. The full layered skirt inspired by the regal full skirts often seen in traditional Brazilian and Cuban costumes,” Simon-Hartman tells Vogue.

Photo: Courtesy Parkwood Entertainment / Disney Plus.

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