When you think of Nicki Minaj, you likely think of her insane flow, her affinity for all things pink, her dearly beloved Barbz... the list goes on. Her hair, however, should be at the top of the list. Sis rocks inches and bundles that would make Rapunzel pale with envy. And for her Elle July 2018 cover, she may have outdid her own damn self; Kim Kimble, her longtime hairstylist, exclusively tells Refinery29 that the hair was 59 inches long. Yep: Fifty. Nine.
"We wanted it to touch the floor," Kimble tells us. "We didn't cut it at all." The stylist, who also works with Beyoncé, used 12 bundles of hair from her own line, HairDrobe by Kim Kimble. While that sounds daunting, the pro insists it wasn't that heavy on Minaj's head. "12 bundles does sound like a lot, but your hair is thinner when it's longer," Kimble says. "You've got to go by the weight. The longer your hair is, the less is in the bundle."
Prepping, on the other hand, is a bit of a different story. After dyeing the hair jet black, Kimble straightened every inch of it. "It's a lot to flat iron," Kimble admits. "I don't do really big sections. I go from root to tip with my Vapor Infusion Iron and clip the sections that I'm not using out of my way. All it takes is one pass." Afterwards, she smooths on Argan oil for shine.
As for the controversial shot of Kimble holding Minaj's hair, the hairstylist considers it a great honor, from her point of view. It was actually Karl Lagerfeld's idea — he shot the cover at his Parisian studio, and asked Kimble to get in the frame. "While I was doing my thing and touching her up, he snapped a photo of it," she says. "I've done hair for several Elle covers, but this one is really iconic. As a hairstylist, we don't always get featured in shoots. This is one that I'm definitely getting framed!"