Au naturale: Local stylist gets New York Fashion Week invite

jlondberg@kcstar.comFebruary 16, 2017 

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    Location: Nature’s Design Hair & Skin Care, 300 S.W. Noel St.

    Phone: 816-547-8387

    Website: Find Sharmelle Winsett online at StyleSeat: styleseat.com/m/book/v/sharmellewinsett.

The name of her salon says it all: Nature’s Design.

A local hairstylist aims to instill confidence in her clientele to embrace their natural hair, whether it’s kinky, curly, wavy or straight.

“People have a desire to be more natural,” said Sharmelle Winsett, the owner of Nature’s Design Hair and Skin Care on Noel Street. “I look at what I do like a ministry: It’s my goal to help all little girls and boys, women and men, to love what they have.”

And this past week, Winsett had an opportunity on a grand stage to preach that notion. She was invited to show off her skills working to accentuate natural hair at New York Fashion Week.

Winsett was invited by and worked alongside Tippi Shorter, a global artistic director for textured hair at Aveda. Shorter has styled celebrity clients such as Lady Gaga, Kelly Rowland and Alicia Keys.

One of Winsett’s passions is to encourage African Americans, which comprise the majority of her clientele, to go natural and, in the process, expand the definition of beauty to include all hair types.

“Before Sharmelle, I wasn’t aware of how to take care of my natural hair,” said client Shania Grubbs.

Winsett credited Shorter for her inspiration in the realm of ethnic hair.

“Tippi’s work has been amazing in terms of helping educate women on how to work with their natural hair, how to style textured hair,” Winsett said.

Winsett’s embrace of this shift in fashion, one that is more inclusive of minority hair types, is founded on the belief that young people, especially girls, will have more confidence and sense of belonging if their hairstyle is accepted and displayed in popular culture, as it was at New York Fashion Week.

Her work as a well-known stylist of ethnic hair in the Kansas City area garnered the attention of Shorter, leading to an invite to New York Fashion Week.

Originally expecting to style for just one show, Winsett said a snowstorm altered her schedule, and she ended up working five shows last weekend and Monday.

Stylists had about 15 minutes to prepare models for the runway. They used mousse to style and a diffuser to add volume to models’ hair.

Winsett said three fashion designers’ shows — Hellessy’s, Verdad’s and Public School’s — emphasized the models’ natural hair textures.

“Back in the day, they’d want to take those kinks and relax them,” Winsett said, but at this season’s Fashion Show, models “got to go down the runway with their kinks. As a black woman, that almost made me cry.”

Winsett’s calling, to instill confidence in her clients to embrace their hair, continued after she arrived back in Lee’s Summit Tuesday.

“One thing this experience will allow me to do with girls and the parents I work with is I can say it’s important to teach them young: ‘You’re perfect just the way you are.’ And to see that translate onto the runway — the world is finally getting it.”

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