Behind The Cover: Rihanna’s Cowgirl Chic

When you’re booked as a hairstylist for British Vogue’s April cover shoot and the subject is Rihanna, you know your day won’t be a boring one. If there’s anyone prepared to experiment with their look it’s Rihanna, which is why her regular collaborator Yusef Williams – who has worked with her on her Balmain, Dior and Puma campaigns as well as a healthy bank of editorial work – was the only man for the job.

“We do enjoy mixing things up. I find that photoshoots are the place where we can go against the grain, whether it be classic or over the top,” Williams told us. “It is an amazing experiencing working with Rihanna – she is someone that keeps me on my toes creatively. As a hairstylist it’s very important not to be complacent in your artistry and Rihanna is someone that brings out the best in you even when you think you have achieved your maximum potential.”

With heavily-embellished clothing and a new Manolo Blahnik shoe collaboration to show off, the shoot called for hair strong enough to complement the fashion without distracting from it – think full, swept-back waves with plenty of volume.

“The brief from Craig McDean and Kate Phelan was to make her beautiful, which was not hard to do. There was no need to play around with several styles because Kate knew she wanted to go with more of a cowgirl-inspired look,” he explained. “Craig and I have past history working together so he was aware of my style and technique. With that, the overall goal was to give her a polished and beautiful look.”

Williams dried the hair with a round brush and pin-curled it immediately afterwards to create volume, adding dry shampoo and hairspray to keep the style in place. Finishing spray added shine, whilst one important final touch gave the cover image its style talking point.

“It was Kate & Rihanna’s idea to use the Piers Atkinson cowboy hat on the cover – I thought it was amazing.”