The 2013 American Music Awards aired Sunday night, and days later, we're still talking about Rihanna's groundbreaking hairstyle. The first-ever ICON award winner took the stage in a doobie wrap, a culturally-specific style typically reserved for the bedroom and the salon. Wrapping the hair is a protective technique used by African American and Latina women to preserve straight hairstyles. Interchangeably called a "doobie" or "wrap" depending on the region, the style is created by brushing the hair in one direction around the circumference of the head and securing with bobby pins. As a rule, most women never wear their doobie wrap beyond the threshold of their house or salon. But Rihanna's never paid attention to rules.
We spoke with Rihanna's longtime hair guru and Motions celebrity hairstylist, Ursula Stephen, to get the lowdown on the inspiration behind RiRi's wrap on the red carpet and to see if she thinks the style will become a bona fide trend.
Whose idea was it for Rihanna to wear a doobie wrap?
It was actually Rihanna's idea. She had her mind made up! Honestly, I was a little hesitant but I knew she could pull it off, so I was all for it.
Did you anticipate the overwhelming reaction?
I knew it would get a reaction but I wasn't sure if it would be positive or negative. A doobie on the red carpet has never been done before so I knew it could have gone either way.
Do you foresee the wrap, worn outside the home/salon, becoming a universal trend?
Sure. I mean, it's already been done. I see girls on the street rocking them all the time shopping, eating, etc. It's just never been seen in a formal setting.
Some interpreted the style to mean Rihanna is nonchalant about her AMAs honor while others felt it was a unique and clever nod to her culture at a time when the world was watching. What statement were you and Rihanna trying to make?
It was a nod to fashion! This is a style that can be worn by some of the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood.
The wrap actually has roots in the '30s finger waves hairstyle, and with the embellished pins, it channeled Old Hollywood. Were the pins a request Rihanna made or your own design decision? What did they bring to the look?
Yes, the '30s were all about [the wrap]! The pins helped to elevate the look from just your average doobie.
There's been quite a bit of backlash from some members of the African-American and Latina community, who feel the wrap should be relegated to the bedroom. How do you respond to that criticism?
Everyone has an opinion. However, the doobie has been worn to Bergdorf Goodman. They just haven't been paying attention. And it's been around since the '30s. Part of my job is to know eras, trends and fashion, and to keep looks alive by adding a modern twist.
You were also behind Rihanna's iconic cut during the 'Good Girl Gone Bad' era. Together, you two consistently step outside the box and experiment with hair. Is it your goal to push the envelope further and further with Rihanna's looks? What groundbreaking style do you want her to try next?
Of course! As an artist, you can't take yourself too seriously. It's about evolving, having fun, feeling beautiful and letting the look interpret the feeling, mood and the music! I feel like we have done everything. However, there is a mental list of "looks," not styles, that we want to try. More iconic shit is on the list.
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