On Wednesday, January 20, around 10:45 ET in the morning, every group chat in the world started buzzing out of control. There was only one name being written in all caps by everyone involved: “MICHELLE OBAMA.”
The former First Lady has always given the people what they wanted — and sometimes, what they didn’t even know they wanted, but absolutely needed. While the inaugural events were about so much more than fashion and hair, we need to talk about the hair, particularly Mme. Obama’s. She ate us all up that day, arriving in a burgundy monochromatic Sergio Hudson suit, with her hair styled in the most perfect, silky, bouncy curls.
It was some Disney movie fairytale-level stuff. And, no, it was not a troop of hot tool-wielding cartoon songbirds that helped her get the look. Quite the contrary. Those curls came courtesy of her longtime hairstylist Yene Damtew, whose expert skills damn near broke the social media altogether. Don’t believe me? Let’s let Twitter do the talking:
Given the hub-bub, we were absolutely compelled to hit up Damtew to get the details on the look. We got that, plus the tea on her new business coaching program, her working relationship with Obama, and how the conversation around Black hair and hairstyles is moving forward to this day.
How The Style Came Together
Damtew, along with makeup artist Carl Ray and stylist Meredith Koop, collaborated to create the curls that rocked the world. Once Damtew got a look at the beautiful Sergio Hudson pieces Obama would wear on the big day, she knew exactly what to do. “We’ve been working together for more than a decade so, at this point, we know each other,” Damtew says about the former First Lady. “She trusts me to pick a style that will work and I trust her to allow me some creativity.”
So how can we mere mortals copy the look at home? Be prepared to get close and personal with your curling iron. “I started with creating curls with a one-inch barrel iron. Next, we did a curl set to lock in the curls,” Damtew explains. She then took a round brush to create body and “soften” the curls, finishing off the look with a feather comb for some volume and hair spray so it would hold for the day. As Damtew demonstrated in a video tutorial, you can also achieve the look using a flatiron.