Photo: Nick Barose
Lupita Nyong’o’s beauty represented both the African continent and the fictitious nation of Wakanda at the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever international premiere in Los Angeles.
One major thing that stood out was her cowrie headpiece. Though the shells of cowries can be found worldwide, for Africans it holds both monetary and symbolic meanings. Due to their resemblance to female reproductive organs, they are recognized as fertility symbols and have been utilized for ages in West Africa, China, and India as divination tools. Cowries still stand for riches and prosperity in many cultures and are still widely used in jewelry and home decor because they were the first thing ever used as money and a medium of trade.
The Yoruba people of Nigeria consider the head to contain a person’s complete individuality, spirituality, and destiny. The cowries stand for prosperity, well-being, joy, and good health.
With a scene that blended African elements with Wakandian notes—a technique inspired by his recent trips through Africa with Nyong’o—makeup artist Nick Barose captured Wakanda’s earthbound-meets-futuristic style. He Tells Vogue: “Her white custom Balmain gown reminded me of the classical statues of North Africa,” says Barose, who turned to the continent’s art, along with ample red earth and terracotta hues to inform the makeup. “I wanted to draw inspirations from the past, present, and future.”
With the help of Lancôme’s Holiday 2022 Eye & Face Palette, Barose created a wash of stunning metallics that gave her eyes the appearance of vibranium. The actor’s lips were painted with L’Absolu Rouge in 118 French Coeur. The past and present, and their more earthy hues, could be seen pressed onto the actor’s cheeks and lips. Vernon François created Nyong’o’s sculptural updo, a crown made of cowrie shells and macramé that gave it an appropriately regal look.
You can remember in 2020, LaFalaise’s exquisite cowrie jewelry has appeared in several of Beyoncé‘s videos. Her touching Spirit video for The Lion King featured her in the first outing.