If cool girls everywhere had a poster child, then it'd be Zoë Kravitz. And if all of those cool girls had a glam squad, it'd most certainly be headed up by one of our faves, hairstylist Nikki Nelms. It's no secret that Nelms, who's been doing hair since the sixth grade, knows how to push the envelope and challenge herself creatively. Nope, you're not going to get a regular ol' wash and set in her hands. Which is why Kravitz clung to the Florida-born stylist's side after meeting her almost four years ago. It's been perfect harmony ever since. Literally.
"Our appointments are always so much fun," Nelms tells Refinery29. "Sometimes I have to tell myself to focus. And she always has the best playlist ever, with lots of SZA and Childish Gambino." But Nelms, ever the complete professional, manages to get the job done every time. Read more about their time in the chair together, below.
The (Hairstyle & Client) Meet Cute
"Our first time working together was at an early 2013 shoot for V Magazine. We had a really good vibe, and she asked me if I was available to start helping her out with her hair and maintaining it. We both lived in Brooklyn and I was like, 'sure, I’d love to!'
"The first major style I did on her was a longer pixie. It was just styling, I may have shaped it. Her hair was dark and it was cute. The first time I had more creative control was when we did a bob. It was for editorial. Then the braids came after. She loves how I braid, but I couldn't always commit to doing them. Still, I would always make sure I was there to do her for all her major moments, like the cover of Elle or her television appearances.
"She stopped doing the braids because style changes. Your mind changes. It’s evolution. Nobody wants same thing forever. It just makes sense. When you want to do something, just do it. That’s the cool thing about her. Her style isn’t driven by what everybody else is doing. It's her vibe and her choice which is actually so empowering and so cool."
"We'll text each other ideas. We are both very similar in that we don't like anything fussy. Our personal aesthetics are the same — our styles don't require much. Not saying storyboarding is unnecessary, but you don't need it when you get it. And we get each other really well. She decides something and then we just trust each other."
On Taking Zoë Short
"Edgy is in the eye of the beholder. But to me, I think her haircut is edgy. It's really cool and carefree and funky. You can do a lot with it. It's versatile. When she was blonde, you were able to see the texture in it because there was more length. Now it's sleek and darker. It's still pixie and cute and short, but the blonde gave it a little more.
"To keep her hair healthy, I use lots great shampoos and conditioners. And I do use a mini flat iron to straighten and curl, but I try to use minimal heat. Nothing too excessive. Unite 7Seconds Detangler is what I use on the go, too. It’s a time-effective product that helps maintain the health of the hair."
The Tough Question
"Ugh. Picking a favorite look is like picking a favorite kid — I really like them all! I loved her blonde cut, but then I loved the MET Gala moment. Then I also loved her British Vogue shoot. And then I loved her braids when we would do certain things. It might come off like I'm lying, but I really do love it all. Or maybe it's her that I love. She really does make my job look better."
On Zoë's Evolution
"Honestly, she’s the same as when I met her. The cool part about her, and being an actress and also a musician, is that you get different sides of her at different times for different projects she's working on. I get to do the super, super glam Zoë for the Emmys and other red carpets… then I get to do the cool Zoë, where her street style shines. And sometimes I'll get Zoë from Lolawolf. We get to play more in that area.
"It also helps that she's super open to change and not that attached to anything. She's open to length or cutting it, open to darkening or bleaching. When you’re open, you can experience more. Once you figure out what you love about your hair, you can do the same thing. And it doesn't hurt to be as beautiful as Zoë is, either. I could put anything on her hair and she'll still be my baby boo."
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