One recent balmy Tuesday in Los Angeles, Beyoncé and Jay Z walked into the Opening Ceremony on La Cienega Boulevard and came back out with a pair of headpieces. These were no ordinary hats, of course: The discerning duo had discovered the work of Kelsey Fairhurst, whose sculptural hair wraps rethink the medium entirely.
Fairhurst was born and raised in Ohio, where she studied fashion design. Shortly after graduation, she moved to New York to become a graphic designer for the CFDA; her line began as a passion project, done on the side. Smartly, she decided to start small, thinking back to the simple turbans she used to keep her hair back during her student days as she cut and sewed through the night. “It was something I could 100 percent fund myself,” Fairhurst explains, adjusting the matte black version wrapped around her own scalp.
On a table, she lays out a series of bandana-like strips of leather and velvet, denim and silk. Her technical game changer was a bit of flexible wire, placed along the inside edge of each piece like a bra’s underwire, which allowed Fairhurst to bend each one into fantastical shapes. “That was my aha moment,” she says of the expanded styling options, three of which are modeled here by Seashell Coker.
Working out of her tiny Bushwick apartment, Fairhurst assembled the early prototypes and brought them to the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator in South Williamsburg, which took on production duties. When the first batch was ready, she cold-emailed Opening Ceremony. It immediately began stocking the line in New York and L.A., and now also sells it in Japan. It’s been hard, store managers say, to keep the architectural wraps in stock. Recently, Fairhurst shares, Erykah Badu independently bought one in bright silver and put it on Instagram, winding the ends upward to jut out from her forehead like a unicorn’s horn. “I literally freaked out because I’m a huge Erykah Badu fan!” Fairhurst says, adding that she’s now working on a custom creation for the artist.
Up next is a second collection slated for early fall, for which Fairhurst plans to expand into clothing—think tube tops and halters, twisted around the neck and body. “The possibilities,” she says, “seem endless.”