When the cast was confirmed and released, Twitter was shaking. Literal shaking commenced and that was just the start. As the trailers and movie posters started to appear there was a consensus of the following: recognition of a dope project and a deep-seated confirmation that January’s paycheck is going towards witnessing this movie.
Black Panther is THE most anticipated movie to start the 2018 year. The cast of actors, from young to old, includes top Black Hollywood’s A-List like Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, our cover girl, Danai Gurira, Michael B. Jordan, Forest Whitaker, and our ever-present second mother, Phylicia Rashad.
With a cast like this, Marvel was sure to appoint a career-equivalent match, one who happens to be the first African American stylist to work with Marvel. Did you get that: first African American stylist with Marvel. We were able to dive deeper into the production with said dope and influential Department Head Stylist, Camille Friend, to explore the world of creating, in our opinion, the next Oscar award-winning styling (you read it here first).
How did those essential Black Panther looks start as a concept? Research. Like any Department Heads in the hair industry, many focal questions develop in their mind: was there a previous adaptation of the series (comics), what time period do you want to draw inspiration from, and how much free reign do you have to create a whole new look? “One of the great things about signing on this movie was previously doing four Marvel movies and knowing that Marvel wasn’t committed to the same look in the comics,” said Friend. “This gives me a free reign to find other inspiration, which paid tribute to tribal culture.” We can just imagine: Camille flipping through the history pages with Zulu, Surma, Himbu cultures, Senegalese warriors, even an afro-punk era; all these concepts essentially creating the 2018 Black Panther vibe.
Free reign from Marvel? The Black community salutes your for this. Why? With the creative aspect of Black Panther and an all Black cast, even in comics, focusing on these cultures realistically heightens the movie’s believability. This is what African Americans wore; why not depict them in the appropriate clothes and styles?
Okay, back to the hair. Sorry, we’re super excited. It is obvious as much as the costumes are complex, elaborate and amazing, so is the hair. “After drawing my inspiration, I knew most of the hairstyles for the cast members were going to incorporate lace wigs, extensions, and hairpieces,” said Camille. “What viewers would be surprised to know is that most of these lace wigs were handmade for the movie.”
Natascha Ladek, this is your appreciation moment. Thank you. Ladek is the wigmaker creating two of our favorite looks, which are the most dramatic: Lupita’s character, Nakia, and Angela Bassett’s character, Ramonda. Lupita’s real-life hairstyle is cut very short with a modern menswear-turned-woman feel. Her character is the opposite. The wig is still a little short but incorporates natural texture with an ombré red color. The style is what amazed us.
For one of Lupita’s looks, the wig incorporates Wakanda knots, which are similar to Bantu knots, but rolled flatter, almost like a cinnamon roll. The second look was minimalistic with twisting the hair, then taking and combing it out. Both those looks gives us natural realness, tribal realness, and African American trueness.
Our favorite look? HANDS DOWN, Angela Bassett’s transformation. Movie-goers and Bassett’s fans have seen a number of wigs worn on each character, but to see locs, platinum blonde (almost white) locs, we know there wasn’t any holdback with creating quality and amazing looks. “When I was evaluating Bassett’s character, I knew I wanted her in something regal, but very different from any hairstyle she has done before. I pitched locs, which turned into a go, and I couldn’t be more happy with the turnout,” said Friend. “The hair was very expensive-looking as all of her locs are handmade, which is a very difficult and long process. Approximately 85 locs were in the special-made wig. I’m just happy Marvel was so willing to explore these different styles with me, which turned out to be a work of art.”
Women weren’t the only cast members to receive very elaborate looks. Michael B. Jordan’s character, Erik Killmonger, wears locs at the top and a fade along the sides of his hair. “I’m always trying to go out of the box with every look, so I knew I wanted to create a look for his character we’ve haven’t seen him in,” said Friend. “He grew out his hair pretty long at the top, so we added loc extensions to them for length.” And that, our friends, is how he’s going to become the Black Heartthrob of this movie (not like he already isn’t).
Camille has been making her Marvel rounds with Black Panther being her fifth production. You can witness her past work serving as Department Heads on Guardians of the Galaxy, Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and 2, and Captain America Winter Soldier. She’s also been the Department Head of three movies unlike others: Detroit, Django Unchained, and Dream Girls. Just like her work, she is equally amazing with giving back to budding stylist looking to get into film styling.
What was the last thing she said in our interview, “We need to break the box office and bring in the numbers. We need everyone to see and support this movie.” This movie with amazing style and hair we shall be first in line to see.