As if by rite of passage, the Black model archive is filled with trials of hapharzard handling of one’s hair. Left in the hands of hairstylists deaf to the temperment of Black tresses, Black fashion pioneers have recounted tales of their coils and strands being stretched to their breaking, frayed ends; scalps carelessly permed, harshly scorched, battered with color, and left to be restored by weaves, wigs, and the shearing of frazzled locks.
These haunting experiences are now often shrouded in frustrated one-off tweets, or woeful interview admissions from present-day Black fashion favorites Jourdan Dunn and Chanel Iman, messages that acknowledge a problem, but rarely hold few responsible. This while Black model stalwarts Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks have fought the effects of alopecia publicly, Banks raising significant awareness to the damaging toll modeling has caused to her hair by going completely natural in 2010, even urging Larry King to feel her restored scalp in an on-camera 2009 interview.
It is uplifting then to see the newest pack of Black models storming the catwalks in full embrace of their natural hairstyles, from cropped Afros, flat tops, to buzzed scalps–and in turn being embraced by the industry that has typically approached Black hair with skepticism and harsh critique.
Click here to read the remainder of my first VOGUE Italia piece on the natural hair trend I spotted on the FW12 runways.
Photo of Herieth Paul courtesy of Ryan MicGinley for the EDUN Spring 2012 campaign