Why Lupita Nyong’o Adorned Her Newly Shaved Head With a Mesmerizing Henna Tattoo

What is a shaved head if not a blank canvas? For the premiere of Mira Nair’s onstage musical, Monsoon Wedding, Lupita Nyong’o adorned her scalp in a henna art, the work of New York–based artist Sabeen Marghoob.

Along with its exquisite, eye-catching elements, henna embodies dedication, hard work, and a celebration of culture. “Many artists, like myself, make all of their henna paste and cones themselves,” explains Marghoob, who has been doing henna for as long as she can recall. “We spend years practicing unique designs, adjusting our henna paste recipes, and coming up with our own distinct styles.”

After meeting at a wedding in Karachi, Pakistan last year, Nyong’o enlisted Marghoob to create a bespoke decorative design to match the motifs of Nair’s show. To bring the headpiece to life, Marghoob suggested the use of Jagua, a natural dye from a fruit from South America that has a darker, bluish-black stain.

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of @lupitanyongo</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of @lupitanyongo

“The only thing Lupita specified was that she wanted a widow’s peak at the center of her forehead,” says the artist, who completed the piece over the course of four hours. “I drew up a couple of sketches for the framing of her face; but other than that, I improvised!” Improvisation is key in Marghoob’s art, allowing room for individuation to better suit each client. “I love having the freedom to create something distinct for each person,” she says. “For Lupita, I wanted to make sure there was a lot of contrast between bolder and daintier elements of the design so that it popped.”

The resulting look was bold, lacey, and decadent—and evidence that parting ways with one’s hair is the beginning of an entirely new set of possibilities.

Originally Appeared on Vogue

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