Lupita Nyong’o turned heads during May 2’s Met Gala when she arrived in a green sequin Calvin Klein dress and towering hairstyle. While walking the red carpet, the actress stopped to chat with Vogue correspondent Andre Leon Talley about the vision behind her look.
Lupita explained that the inspiration behind her hairstyle came from “the sculptural hair-dos from all around the continent.” When Talley pointed out that it was reminiscent of Nina Simone, Nyong’o agreed that the singer was also a source of inspiration.
Despite being clear about her influences, Vogue related the Oscar winner’s skyward hairstyle to actress Audrey Hepburn. In a piece titled, “Is Lupita Nyong’o the New Audrey Hepburn?” the publication compares her hair to a similar style worn by Hepburn in a Vogue spread from 1963, a clear misappropriation of Nyongo’s homage. Vogue also points out the similarities many were drawing between Nyong’o and Marge Simpson and Dr. Seuss’ “Whosville.”
In response to the Vogue piece, Nyong’o took to Instagram this morning to post a video of herself at the Met Gala alongside a series of African women and Nina Simone. She captioned the picture “Hair Inspiration. Check.” and tagged Vogue.
As NPR points out, the choice to overlook the historical significance is insulting. In the past, those types of structural hairstyles have signified a person’s tribal background and have represented status and wealth in Africa. Even though the hairstyles are more rare today, it is still tradition that still lives on in many African societies.