Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o was clear about the inspirations behind her gravity-defying updo at this year's Met Gala, and they do not include Audrey Hepburn.
On Wednesday, Vogue archive editor Laird Borrelli-Persson mused that Nyong'o was drawing from a 1963 photo shoot Audrey Hepburn did with Vogue, citing a similarity between Nyong'o's sculpted coiffure and Hepburn's beehive. In response, Nyong'o politely gave credit where credit was due, using Instagram to showcase the iconic styles of black and African women she was actually honoring.
Without a doubt, both Hepburn and Nyong'o's hair went to new heights. But it's unclear why Hepburn was the chosen reference point.
On the red carpet Monday, Nyong'o told Vogue's André Leon Talley that her take on the "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology" theme was a mix of The Matrix, African sculptural coiffures, and musician Nina Simone.
Misattributing Nyong'o's look to Hepburn is a stretch, but the mistake makes sense when you consider the ways women of color are recognized through white standards of beauty, a point that Nyong'o has been outspoken about over the course of her career
In 2014, she was awarded the Best Breakthrough Performance Award at Essence's Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. Upon acceptance of the award, she gave an impassioned speech on the importance of representation, especially for black girls like her who don't always get to see references to people like herself.
And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey [to self-acceptance]. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.
Part of encouraging young girls like Nyong'o to see the depth of their beauty is recognizing that their roots aren't always found in mainstream archives.