Empire enthusiasts weren't just flipping out about the plot twists during last night's premiere. During a commercial break, they were also treated to Pantene's brand new commercial promoting its Gold Series range, made especially for relaxed and natural hair. The minute-long spot, featuring sculptural updos, curls, 'fros, angular blow-outs, and even dreadlocks (!!!), was an ode to Black beauty that has largely been ignored by the media in the past. "Whether we choose to wear it relaxed or natural, every strand is testimony to our history...that makes us stronger," a voiceover narrated. "And strong is beautiful." Damn right.
The force behind those strong and beautiful looks is Chuck Amos, the brand's celebrity stylist. But Amos, who's worked with Solange and Jourdan Dunn, didn't take his cues from his star-studded clientele. "No celebrities inspired me," he tells Refinery29. "This commercial was a celebration of Black hair history from Africa to the future."
In the clip, Lion Babe (who's a Pantene brand ambassador) wears a tribal style with an intricate crown braid. Then you see your Afros, 1940s-inspired coifs, dyn-o-mite Soul Train looks, cornrows with baby hair like you often saw in the 80s, "mixed girl curls," and then a very Afropunk-esque, orange-dipped fro-hawk. But the pièce de résistance was a sharp angled bob, Amos' vision of what a postmodern Black hairstyle would look like.
"The futuristic bob took the longest to create," he reveals. "It was the most challenging to accomplish as well, as we were creating a new postmodern style that has never been done before, from scratch!"
For all of the looks, Amos says that the hero products used were Pantene Gold Series' Intense Hydrating Oil, the Hydrating Butter Crème, and the Curl Defining Pudding. "The entire collection includes eight care and styling products that provide superior strength and moisture for women with relaxed, natural, and transitioning hair," he notes. "It’s too hard to pick favorites!"
While the line in itself is incredible — I deep conditioned with a teeny bit of the Moisture Boost Conditioner last week, and my curls are STILL so soft — the message behind it is what Chuck is most proud of. "This is so important to me because it gives textured women an opportunity to finally have a great relationship with their hair, for a change," he says. "We can now celebrate our unique and diverse hair with a product line that sees us! Pantene is recognizing the importance of African-American women to feel confident wearing their hair in any style they choose and [it's] celebrating the heritage, diversity and beauty of African American women, proving that all strong hair is beautiful hair." Amen.