A Brief History of Leopard Print Hair, Which Versace Might Have Just Brought Back
Congratulations are in order for Nicki Minaj.
Just a week after Lady Gaga turned heads by matching her platinum locks to her periwinkle Valentino couture at the Golden Globes, a little-known model with only around 50,000 Instagram followers managed to make her efforts look positively tame. On Saturday, in the midst of Milan Men’s Fashion Week, the model João Knorr effectively stole the show from Kaia Gerber, Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and even the latter’s ponytail which appeared to have a life of its own, when he strutted down the runway in a pair of black-and-white striped pants and a knee-length leopard print coat—plus a head of leopard print hair to match.
It wasn’t until after the show, though, that Knorr, who also recently joined Gerber and Hadid in the house’s fall/winter 2018 campaign, landed his true crowning achievement: snagging a spot on Donatella Versace‘s very own Instagram feed, where she referred to his ultra-coordinated look as “everything.” (This was, of course, a few hours after the hairstylist extraordinaire Guido Palau and the colorist Davide got their hands on his previously pristinely platinum blonde buzzcut.)
This isn’t the first time the style has popped up. In fact, Palau’s photo of the back of Knorr’s head looks almost identical to one that the salon Bleach London posted with the caption “Def Leppard,” back in April of 2017. The Instagram went semi-viral, even making it to the Today Show, at which point the hairstylist behind the look, Erik Pascarelli, shed some insight into his process, telling Marie Claire that he first bleached the hair and toned it “light bronde,” before using black and brown dyes and recommending the use of color-safe shampoo. (Shortly after the show, the stylist Katy England shared evidence that she’d in fact gotten ahead of the trend all the way back in 1995, when she, the hairstylist Yiotis Panayiotou, and the makeup artist Val Garland teamed up for a shoot that appeared in the Evening Standard.)
Buzzing your head isn’t in fact a requirement, though it certainly simplifies the application process. (All Davide had to do with Knorr was get crafty with a few different makeup brushes.) While you can use at least two different shades of hair dye—as well as, per wikiHow‘s rather genius suggestion, several stalks of celery—you can also use tinted hairspray to apply the colors. The latter option, of course, not only frees you from more longterm commitment, but also makes it easier to erase the evidence if you fumble while holding up the look’s other essential: a leopard print stencil. (Especially if you’re taking it up a notch by taking it rainbow style.)
Still unsure about whether or not to proceed? Take a look back at two decades’ worth of celebs experimenting with the style before you pick up those stalks of celery, here.
Time has proven that comparatively, this look barely made it into Dennis Rodman’s inimitable hair history, which spans from embuing himself with a Chicago bull to keeping things extremely smiley,
Adrian Young, drummer of No Doubt
Adrian Young protected leopard print’s punk reputation by shifting it from the basketball court to the stage of a No Doubt concert. (Though he definitely lost some punk points for allowing the performance to be taped by MTV’s Total Request Live.)
“This is all my hair. At night, if I press a certain button, my hair grows up. I press another button, it activates the color in it,” Nicki Minaj said at the 2011 Grammy Awards, where she caused quite the spectacle and perhaps inspired Tyler, the Creator’s look at the show a full seven years later. Alas, if only we could judge her look without the, um, cherry on top…
Stay tuned; first, a brief interruption from Dakota Rose. Shockingly enough, photos of the erstwhile scene queen’s signature spots—in contrast to Kiki Kannibal’s “stripes,” aka coon tails—have all but disappeared since MySpace’s heyday. (Rose is now a model based in Tokyo.)
Nick Cannon then spent a total of what he admitted on Instagram to be five hours on bringing back the look’s traditional iteration. (Strangely enough, he’s since erased the evidence.)
Nicki Minaj, again
Getting back to Minaj, thanks to her persistence, we can admire her spots in all their glory. Months later, in between trying out a pastel pink bob and a zebra-striped mohawk, she reprised the look while appearing alongside Rihanna in the music video for “Fly.” While nowhere near as eye-catching, the tamer, the (arguably) better.
Tyler, the Creator
Having trouble remembering when Tyler, the Creator walked the red carpet with a leopard print buzzcut of his own less than a year ago, at the Grammy’s? You’d be excused, seeing as he spent most of the time covering up his dye job with a giant furry, white, and now probably stained Soviet Army hat, keeping Minaj’s legacy alive.
Related: The 21 Biggest Celebrity Hair Transformations of 2018: Before and After