Wild Styles: Crazy Celebrity Hair
When your wardrobe includes a dress made out of hair, it's safe to assume you have pretty intense feelings for it. Earlier this year, Gaga paraded around Hong Kong wearing a sheath made from swing ourple hair into which her own strands were braided, as if it were an extension of herself. Recently she tweeted: "Hangover, :( help. Woke up cuddling my weave like a teddy bear and there's chicken and waffles in the bed. Need a gym and a salon." Priorities, priorities.
Over the years, Gaga has worked with a few hairstylists to engineer her ever-evolving look: There's Bob Recine, who designed some of Gaga's more extreme headpieces, including one made from a shoe. And Sam McKnight, who gave her flowing gray locks for the cover of Vanity Fair. And Patricia Morales, who created the hair bow—now sold at shopping malls everywhere. And let's face it, if you've got the mall crowd's ear, that's real influence. As Gaga told her Little Monsters during the ABC special A Very Gaga Thanksgiving while pinning on a turquoise weave: "This one is for all the kids who are bullied in school who are afraid to be themselves. I'm gonna put this big funny piece of teal on my hair and tell you that I feel fabulous." And which of her songs was she playing in the piano at the time? You guessed it: "Hair."
She of the multihued, multilevel wigs is as well-known for her cuckoo hairstyles as her distinctive flow—due, in part, to her hairstylist and wigmaker, Terrance Davidson, who accompanies Minaj on tour with two suitcases of wigs and styling products. Like her freestyling, Minaj's hair decisions are entirely spontaneous. "She goes, 'Let's do blonde,' and I'll try to keep it classy," Davidson says. "One day she likes color, and the next day she doesn't. We just make it work."
Sounds so easy, doesn't it? But this is Nicki Minaj, the woman who announced before a concert in Manila that she had a hair surprise in store for fans that night—before she had informed Davidson. "I'm like, 'What?' I didn't know what the hair change was," he said. (It turned out to be a blue-tinged wig, which he just happened to have on hand.) Davidson is always prepared. "Nicki is always transforming—she changes on you," he says. "But I'm ready."
It's impossible to predict what Rihanna's hair will look like by the time you read this, but whatever the style—short, shaved, red, braids—every wannabe pop star will likely be copying it. And then she'll be on to the next. Unlike many of her counterparts, who rely on hallucinatory weaves or hair accessories, Rihanna's styles seem almost replicable. "I feel like what we do always becomes a trend," says her longtime hairstylist and colorist, Ursula Stephen. "We just like to have fun, and when we get tired of something, I tweak it."
Stephen's willingness to radically change her own hair helped give Rihanna the confidence to do the same, she says. "She saw that she could have long hair one day and short hair the next. And Rihanna's fearlessness inspires Stephens back. "I get to try things with her that I couldn't with a traditional artist," she says. That's a dream come true for me."
Cookie-cutter pop stars, take some tips from the Jessie J playbook: Have a legitimate set of pipes, play SNL before your album drops in the U.S., and don't be afraid to take risks with your sound—or your hair. "I'm very particular about what I like and what I don't," says Jessie, a graduate of the Brit School, a London performing arts institution (and pop-star factory—Adele and Leona Lewis are also alumni). "I hope it works, and if it doesn't, I try again." It takes a village, though. The singer collaborates with two hairstylists, Lyndell Mansfield and Alisha Dobson, to come up with her looks, which have included dip-dyed bobs, shellacked topknots, and one particularly memorable hairstyle she categorizes as "nouvelle fright wig."
"At the O2 Arena once, I wore these big curls. I look back at the pictures and I am like, "Really, Jess? Really, though?" she says. Jessie also looks to her industry peers for ideas. "Gwen Stefani and Rihanna are always inspirations," she says. "There are definitely things Rihanna's done that I don't think I could pull off—but I wish I could."
Onstage, there's the butterfly-adorned, waist-length braid, the crimped-to-high-heaven bob, the ice cream cone headpiece. But offstage there's something glamorous going on with Katy Perry's hair these days. It's no accident—hairstylist Ben Kervin has been working with her to create a "chic seductress" vibe. Think smooth, pinup-girl waves, retro chignons, and sleek ponytails. His biggest challenge? Making that restraint apparent even when Perry's hair color is smurf blue or cotton-candy pink.