For the past two years, pictures of Rihanna's haircut in all its short, spiky glory have been torn out of magazines and toted into salons the world over by women with three simple words for their stylists: "I want that." The woman responsible for the Barbados-born beauty's unique 'do is the also- adorably-coiffed Ursula Stephen, a celebrity hairstylist who works with Mary J. Blige, Paula Patton and Michelle Williams. We spoke to her about Rihanna, the W shoot and the cut that launched a thousand copies.
How long have you been working with Rihanna?
For about the last three years—we met on the "Unfaithful" video. Now I'm with her almost all the time because she's very, very busy. I do her for everything—awards, personal, magazines, shows.
We hear you had a busy week leading up to the W shoot in New York.
We had just flown in from Paris or London, and we were leaving the next day. But it was the most laid-back magazine shoot we've ever done—we even started kind of late. Ri loved the hair, all the clothes, it was just really cool.
Tell us about her hair on the cover, which is a kind of side swept pageboy look.
It's really clean, modern, not too funky, not too spiky. She's worn her hair like that before, but never with that blonde color.
And what about the—dare we say it—fauxhawk?
That was definitely inspired by the reference pictures of the work of artist Patrick Nagel (above). And everyone knows she always wears her hair up and crazy like that. I basically did it with my eyes closed and it came out really cute. I always try to leave a little length on top of her hair because that's where you get the versatility from.
You have a very cute updated bowl hairstyle yourself. Were you the inspiration for the cut?
Yeah I would say so. She would be like 'Your hair is so cute, why don't you try that on me?' I was a little hesitant at first but when she got it it was like second skin for her.
What's it been like to see copies on all different types of women?
I see people all the time—some girls will be walking around all confident and they look all crazy, and then sometimes they look really good and I'm even more inspired by how they get it done.
From hip-hop cutie to edgy fashion icon, W traces the evolution of Rihanna's style.
By Jamie Rosen
January 13, 2010