Get the Story Behind Lupita Nyong’o’s Regal Red Carpet Head Wraps

Lupita Nyong'o
Lupita Nyong'o Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Lupita Nyong’o is red carpet royalty, no doubt. But for her Queen of Katwe press tour, the three-time Vogue cover girl, 33, has been slaying in a different way. 

At the Tuesday, September 20, premiere of the Disney film in Los Angeles, Nyong’o wore a sweeping lavender Elie Saab gown with a triangle-shaped cutout and multicolor straps along with a matching head wrap. Just eight days before, she styled her green and blue Mary Katrantzou jumpsuit with an emerald scarf at a Vanity Fair and Tiffany & Co dinner in Toronto. And for the Toronto Film Festival premiere of Queen of Katwe, also starring David Oyelowo, on September 10, she paired a bold blue wrap with her strapless, sunshine-yellow Carolina Herrera gown printed with blue blooms. 

Vernon Francois
Vernon Francois and Lupita Courtesy Vernon Francois

So what’s the deal behind the scarves? Nyong'o's longtime stylist, Vernon François, explains to Stylish that it’s a nod to her heritage. “The inspiration for the looks comes from African culture and is essentially part of African day to day life,” he notes. “Head wraps play an important role as an everyday accessory.”

Thankfully, the designers that dress Nyong’o are willing to work with her team to find matching fabrics. “The process is definitely a team collaboration between myself, the stylists and the designers,” he says. “On some occasions we will use the same fabric that has been designed for the dress and in other cases, I focus on traditional plain African brocade fabrics.”

Vernon Francois

Before he puts the scarves on, he preps the actress’ hair by massaging products from his eponymous haircare collection on her locks. He spritzes the Pure-Fro Moisture Spray ($37, net-a-porter.com) and leaves it in for five minutes, using the product as a means to protect her stands from breakage. He proceeds to put the wrap on, taking special precautions to make sure it stays intact all night. “Good knotting, pushing and pinning plays a crucial part in keeping the style up all night,” he reveals. “Some of the materials have starch in them so whilst they are easy to create shape, you have to be mindful and pin the style in place.” 

Vernon Francois
Vernon Francois Courtesy Vernon Francois

Looking to try on a wrap of your own? “Just be free spirited when approaching it,” François suggests. “Take inspiration from images of African cultures and have fun manipulating the fabrics!” To protect your mane from breakage while wearing a wrap, use a protective product underneath such as the Vernon François Re-Vamp Moisture Spray ($37, net-a-porter.com) or the Pure-Fro Moisture Spray ($37, net-a-porter.com).

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