Wieden+Kennedy NY’s Black employees celebrate their hair in series of vibrant portraits

The agency’s Black affinity group, noir, packaged the images in a zine—part of a larger Black History Month effort

Published On
Feb 28, 2024
A W+K staffer showing off her knotless braids

Editor's Pick

Photos by Abbygayle Cooke

Black hair holds a special place in Black culture, having long been a potent symbol of identity, resistance, creative expression and freedom.

It’s also just flat-out beautiful, as we are reminded once again through a vivid series of employee portraits created for Black History Month by noir, the Black affinity group inside Wieden+Kennedy New York.

Ad Age Young Creatives

Enter our TikTok contest to win a trip to Cannes

A zine called “Textures,” created as part of noir’s larger series of BHM content this year, includes 38 spreads featuring photos of staffers taken by Abbygayle Cooke. Along with the pics are thoughts from each person—ranging from comical to thoughtful to celebratory—about their hair.

What’s clear from each portrait and blurb is how central one’s hair is to the Black experience—as a vehicle for beauty, experimentation, self-expression and power.

Cover of noir's "Textures" zine

Portrait from noir's "Textures" zine

Portrait from noir's "Textures" zine

Anwar Warner, senior social strategist and co-lead of noir, said the “Textures” project isn’t just your ordinary agency headshot project—far from it. The subject of Black hair is inherently political, as we saw again this week in Texas, where a judge ruled that schools can legally limit a student’s hair length—after a Black student was suspended over the length of his locs hairstyle.

The student, Darryl George, was suspended for months despite Texas having passed the CROWN Act, which prohibits discrimination based on hairstyles that are commonly associated with a particular race or culture.

“Being able to celebrate our hair, to show its diversity in style and texture, particularly during a time when national conversations about Crown Act infringements are taking place, in itself is a triumph,” said Warner. “Our ‘Textures’ endeavor, an exploration of the various hairstyles worn proudly by noir members around the WKNY office, began as a fun expression of our 2024 BHM theme, ‘We Are Not a Monolith.’ It has serendipitously provided us with an opportunity to use our creativity to contribute to an important and relevant social and civil rights discussion.”

Portrait from noir's "Textures" zine

Portrait from noir's "Textures" zine

Portrait from noir's "Textures" zine

The “We Are Not a Monolith” series has also included panel discussion, “Owning Your Crown,” where WKNY’s Black talent shared their personal journeys through the rich tapestry of Black hair.

Noir also held a one-day pop-up installation dedicated to celebrating hair salons and barbershops—longtime havens of the Black community.

Portrait from noir's "Textures" zine

Portrait from noir's "Textures" zine

Portrait from noir's "Textures" zine

Credits

Date
Feb 28, 2024
Agency :
Wieden & Kennedy - New York
Photography :
Abbygayle Cooke
Assistant :
Ken Johnson
Creative Design :
Ricardo Robinson
Copywriter :
Tania Taiwo
Production :
Brionne Burns

Need a credit fix? Contact the Creativity Editors

Industry