If we’ve learned anything from America’s Next Top Model, it’s that being a chameleon is crucial in the modeling industry—you must be able adapt your look to the changing aesthetics of new sets, brands, and campaigns on a daily basis. Joan Smalls is an expert in this, and has pulled off every look under the sun, from strutting down the runway as a peppy Victoria’s Secret Angel to embodying a moody vibe at the Tom Ford SS/23 show. On November 20, Smalls switched up her look yet again for the 2022 American Music Awards, revealing a sharp jellyfish haircut, courtesy of celebrity hairstylist, Andrew Fitzsimons.
Smalls wore a gold two-piece outfit, featuring a long-sleeved gold mock neck bodysuit, and a matching sarong wrapped around her waist. She added to the earthy tones with her neutral nude lip and brown smokey eye, but added a pop of color with blush.
Fitzsimons created a lengthy "jellyfish" hairstyle that reaches to the supermodel’s waist, save for the two pieces of hair in the front, which were cropped by her ears, sloping down diagonally to the outer corner of her mouth, following the cheekbones.
The dramatic jellyfish cut is inspired by the traditional Japanese hime cut—which translates to “princess cut”—and went viral on TikTok earlier this year. The cut is a bit polarizing, and few celebrities have been brave enough to wear it IRL—though Nicole Kidman did beautifully. According to Fitzsimons, the cut wasn't in the duo's original plans.
"Joan wanted to do blunt layers, so I pulled a reference of Cher from the '60s," he tells Byrdie. "We thought we would do them straight across at the cheekbone, but as we got into it, we decided to cut them on a diagonal to make it more modern." It was a risk that payed off, and Fitzsimmons tells us Smalls loved the result.
To style the new cut, Fitzsimons prepped Smalls’s hair using the Andrew Fitzsimons AF1 Restructuring 10-in-1 Leave-In Conditioner ($14) on damp hair to protect the strands from the heat, and the Andrew Fitzsimons Prism Shine Softening Crème ($14) to boost shine and diminish flyaways. After that, Fitzsimons gave Smalls a smoothing blowout, followed by a flat iron to ensure the ends were pin-straight.
Next up, Fitzsimons cut Smalls’s bangs for the hime cut: “Add hair pieces to the front and section off the bangs. Cut one side’s layer short and straight and the other a little longer and on a diagonal angle. Ensure you are using cutting shears for a precise cut.” Once the look was done, he sealed the hairstyle in place with the Andrew Fitzsimons Hard Strong Hold Hairspray ($14) and then sprayed the Andrew Fitzsimons Prism Shine Invisible Shine Hair Spray ($14) for a high-shine, almost liquid finish.
If you're thinking of trying to DIY the cut yourself, "Maybe don't," Fitzsimons warns. "It's a pretty extreme hairstyle that was for the red carpet (and we didn't cut her real hair!), so best to leave it to the professionals. You could try this by using faux bangs—which usually come with longer pieces on the side to frame the face—so you're not trying this on your real hair."