THE IN­FLU­ENCER Ver­non François

THE STAR STYLIST IS ON A MIS­SION TO HELP WOMEN EM­BRACE THEIR NAT­U­RAL TEX­TURES

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LONG BE­FORE HE TENDED TO A- LIS­TERS such as Lupita Ny­ong’o, Amandla Sten­berg, and Ser­ena Wil­liams, one of Ver­non François’s ear­li­est muses was ... a mop. “I used to un­ravel ev­ery sin­gle cord and spend hours braid­ing them back, one by one,” says the self-taught pro, who picked up the art at age 8. Grow­ing up in north­ern Eng­land in a Rasta­far­ian house­hold, François would prac­tice braid­ing on his sib­lings as a Sun­day rit­ual. At 14, he landed a sa­lon job on Lon­don’s famed Ox­ford Street, and three years later, he be­gan col­lect­ing awards for his work. The recog­ni­tion helped earn him ed­i­to­rial gigs at top pub­li­ca­tions, and soon he started de­vel­op­ing a rep­u­ta­tion for a cre­ative, in­clu­sive, and re­source­ful ap­proach. ( He once used a steamer to help style Ny­ong’o’s hair; she posted the mo­ment on In­sta­gram with the hash­tag # thi­sis­called­cre­ativ­ity.) “His sen­si­bil­ity and ap­proach to hair ex­tend be­yond the pa­ram­e­ters of tra­di­tional beauty,” says Sten­berg. “It’s steeped in his­tory, mood, soul, tex­ture, and color and is driven by a pro­found de­sire to show­case the beauty of ex­plo­sive iden­tity. Work­ing with him is ut­ter free­dom to be your­self.”

But find­ing the per­fect tools to en­hance his clients’ hair wasn’t al­ways easy, so in late 2016, François turned his pas­sion into a line of prod­ucts for a myr­iad of tex­tures. It fea­tures stylers and treat­ments cat­e­go­rized by hair types like straight, wavy, kinky, and coily. “I’m try­ing to wake peo­ple up to the idea that you are beau­ti­ful; no mat­ter who you are or where you come from, you can have great hair.”

“His sen­si­bil­ity and ap­proach to hair ex­tend be­yond the pa­ram­e­ters of tra­di­tional beauty.” —AMANDLA STEN­BERG

s Françoi preps Lupita Ny­ong’o for the 2016 Met Gala. SER­ENA WIL­LIAMS AMANDLA STEN­BERG FRANÇOIS’S FAN CLUB LUPITA NY­ONG’O DANAI GURIRA

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