People, Places & Lipsticks: Hawk Eye

Hairstylist Marcia Hamilton couldn’t have imagined a better showcase for her work than 10-year-old Willow Smith’s video “Whip My Hair.”

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Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 11/12/2010

Hairstylist Marcia Hamilton couldn’t have imagined a better showcase for her work than 10-year-old Willow Smith’s video “Whip My Hair.” In the four-minute video—which has been viewed more than 7 million times on YouTube—Hamilton created five eye-popping looks for Smith, from a heart-shaped Mohawk to a pastel cotton-candy froth of frizz. The 33-year-old stylist, who works out of the Juan Juan Center in Beverly Hills, is a natural. “I’ve done every single thing to my hair except for a Jheri curl,” she laughs.

This story first appeared in the November 12, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

How did you come up with the “Whip My Hair” hairstyles?

They were a collaboration between Willow, Jada [Pinkett Smith, Willow’s mother], creative director Fawn Boardley and myself. Movement meant a lot—and also building off of wardrobe, as far as creating colors and the whole vibe. When we decided to dip the hair into paint and splash it around, that was scary because dipping your hair into paint can totally ruin a hairstyle. Then we came up with the idea of braids, and I thought that was perfect.

Tell me about the heart hawk.

Jada threw that out there [by saying], “What if we could put a heart in her hair?” Willow was like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” I didn’t panic, but I thought in the back of my head, “Oh s–t. How can I make that work?” I cut out a Styrofoam heart and made loads of individual braids out of extensions, and then I glued them onto the heart, very craft style. Putting it on Willow was a bit of a process. I wove her braids around the actual heart and pinned it and pulled the rest of it into a ponytail. Prepping it took the most time, about five hours.

What about the hairstyle you call the cotton-candy dream?

Jada had a vision of a soft texture and asked, “Could I make it like cotton candy?” The process for that hair was about 36 hours. I created the extensions by blending the colors. I just wanted the color to be absolutely precise. To make it into the cotton-candy texture, I set it on hairpins, cooked it on a flatiron and let it sit overnight. It was a process to create that texture, but seeing it come together was awesome.

How many people worked on the video?

I had three assistants. I was in charge of Willow and the Warriorettes and background. I came up with the hairdos for the Warriorettes, created a storyboard and laid it out for my assistants. For Willow’s first hairdo, we allotted an hour for hair and makeup, and everything else after was a quick 20-minute hair change. When you’re working with children, you don’t have that much time, because there are only so many hours that they can work.

What was it like when you viewed the “Whip My Hair” video for the first time?

I was in tears.

Are you surprised by its popularity?

No, I’m happy about it. It’s a really cool song, and the biggest thing is the message. It’s about being who you are, being an individual, believing in yourself and having fun. It’s going to be an anthem for little girls and grown-up women, too.

Does Willow Smith have the makings of a style icon?

Totally. Her own personal style is crazy. Hairstylists want to be creative and go there, but you don’t always get that opportunity. Willow thinks outside the box. I show up with a bag of hair and we come up with these amazing hairstyles.

Are mohawks one of your signature hairstyles?

Definitely. I have done a ton of Mohawks. I’m definitely a little punk in my style.

What tips do you have for girls who want to experiment with their hair?

Braid it in weird little ways. My mom showed me how to do a simple braid. That’s what got me started, parting my hair into different sections and doing fun little braids.

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