H.E.R.’s Bold Beauty Statement

INNO SOTTO tangerine ball dress. Photography by SHAIRA LUNA

The artist’s hair stylist says that they referenced pictures of H.E.R.’s mother when she was growing up in the Philippines.

Grammy and Academy award-winning R&B singer-songwriter Gabriella Wilson, otherwise known as H.E.R., continues to conquer the world stages with her love ballads and poetic lyrics. Her honeyed vocals and enigmatic presence was most recently featured in the 30th celebration performance of Beauty and the Beast, where she added a bit of rock ‘n’ roll to her character Belle. 

Long-time followers of the artist can name two elements that define her silhouette, her stylish shades and her textured hair. With her shades off and her hair free, Gabi now returns home as this month’s cover girl for Vogue Philippines

Hair stylist Nina Monique has been working with Gabi since 2018, and calls her journey with H.E.R. as “nothing short of an amazing experience.” Monique has served as a head hair stylist for Revolt TV and created hair looks for the covers of Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, Billboard, and more.  

During the Vogue cover shoot, a creative collaboration between H.E.R.  and Monique bore fruit to two key looks. 

For the first, Nina and Gabi decided to go with H.E.R.’s signature look in big curls, but this time, with a dramatized shift. “Because it was Vogue, I wanted to up the ante a bit,” Nina says, “so we added some hair pieces in her hair to create more volume and movement and to create a bold look.” Here, Gabi is seen basking in the sun; carefree and hair free, with a playful, glowing aura. 

In a reinvigorating twist, the second look exhibits another side to H.E.R. The next hairstyle fashioned on Gabi, although introducing something new, actually borrows and takes inspiration from her home and her past.

Nina explains that they decided to go with a “bone straight look,” or a straight and shiny finish. Since H.E.R. wanted to pay homage to her Filipino mom, Nina says that they “referenced old pictures of her when she was growing up in the Philippines to get a feel of her hairstyles.”

H.E.R. wears a BALLY blazer, ET OCHS black patent gloves, D.D.DAILY bubble skirt, and MAM VIV 458 necklace. Photography by SHAIRA LUNA

Recounting on Gabi’s behalf, Nina points out that the songwriter’s mother always wore her hair straight with a side part. “We really wanted to recreate that look within this shoot,” she says. “H.E.R. never straightens her hair because she normally wears it curly and does not want to damage her curls.” As a way to protect Gabi’s hair and fulfill her wish for the shoot, the team decided to make a custom wig for the second style. 

According to Monique, her friend, Jennifer Jocelyn, a TV and Film wig maker, made a mold of Gabi’s head and built a fully hand-tied wig from scratch. “The look was very phenomenal,” Nina says. “We couldn’t tell that the hair was a wig.” 

Nina was happy that they took that leap for the second look. “I was really glad we got to capture this shot as well because we were able to showcase a side of H.E.R. that many people have never seen,” she says.

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