Mane magic! Laetitia Ky is no ordinary hair influencer. The 23-year-old designs and creates elaborate, sculpted hairstyles, each with a socially conscious message, and posts them on her Instagram and TikTok accounts. Her statements are visually arresting, and people are noticing — in fact, she just won the Elite Model World Digital Creator Contest and received a two-year contract with the prestigious modeling agency’s newly created EWG-Culture division, worth 50,000 euros over two years!
Stylish sat down with Ky at the Elite Model Look competition in Paris, France on November 18 to hear her journey, and clearly, she was over-the-moon with excitement. “Wow, I’m on a cloud,” exclaimed the Ivory Coast native. “Right now I don’t know if I can tell you how it feels. Oh my God. It’s like there are fireworks inside of me! I’m grateful, I’m happy!”
Ky has used her voice — and her hair! — to raise awareness of global women’s issues. She’s made a statement for breast cancer awareness, period shame and reproductive rights, just to name a few. “In Africa, hair is a really strong way to show your special side. African women, our ladies, are very playful with their hair. So as an African woman, it is important for me to use this to create something that can wow people,” she tells Us. Of her favorite look that she’s ever created, a design to invoke awareness of sexual harassment and domestic violence, Ky confides in Us that “maybe it wasn’t the most beautiful visually, but this was the most important for me.”
To create the wild shapes, she uses ordinary crafting supplies like wire with hair extensions. In addition to her political statements, she also created an astrological series, celebrating star signs and the unique power they give women. “I wanted it to be fun. I want to make people smile,” she says.
The audience at Elite Model Look certainly did smile, when Ky stepped out as the winner of the Global Digital Creator contest with her hair piled into a 3-foot vertical ponytail on top of her head. The EML competition has been held for 36 years, but this was the first year that the iconic modeling agency added a competition for content creators to its usual roster of finding and signing fresh faces, surely a sign of the evolution Elite is undergoing under new CEO and co-owner Julia Haart, shifting the narrative of what it means to be a “model” in the modern world.
As a piece of advice for anyone wanting to express themselves as a digital creator, Ky says: “Don’t be shy, just shine!”
Scroll through to see her wildest hair moments!