When Ciara stepped onto the red carpet at The Met Ball, she turned heads with her crazy cool metallic tresses. Her pals Kim Kardashian and Lala Anthony, along with Jennifer Hudson, all showed off totally different (but equally memorable) looks too.
But as it turns out, there was just one talented hairstylist behind all these show-stopping dos. The man behind all the mane magic is Cesar Ramirez, whose earliest styling memory is blowing out his mom’s hair when he was young. “It was always just a very natural thing,” he tells PEOPLE exclusively. “I would be like, ‘Ugh! I just want to go outside and play!’ But I look back to those moments, and it was probably a very good early lesson.”
To help him gather inspiration for his red carpet looks, Ramirez makes an effort to attend fittings to create a well-rounded look for the celebrity he’s working with. “I’m always making these folders of what I would do in certain situations,” says the stylist, whose chic L.A. studio Bunny & Skull is often dotted with celebs (Kardashian recently paid him a visit!). “I like making little presentations for clients to come up with an overall complete look.” Below, we break down all the Met Ball looks Ramirez created in one day.
Ciara’s Sleek and Soft Look
Ramirez has been working with Ciara for six years now, and wanted “to really push limits for the Met Ball,” he says. “I really wanted to play up the futuristic theme of ‘Manus x Machina’ while still keeping a soft and sexy feel.” The Grammy winner’s final look took “months of planning” that included testing out products for “the perfect silver effect,” he says. On the day of, Ramirez prepped her hair with Mizani Curl refresher spray, then dried her locks, iron-curled and set her hair in pin clips. After letting it cool, he removed the clips and brushed through with HRM spray before sculpting finger waves and securing with silver bobby pins. Ramirez then finished off the look with a “secret liquid silver.”
Kim Kardashian’s Sexy and Fresh ‘Do
In the weeks leading up to the event, Ramirez and Kardashian “went back and forth” about what to do before finally settling on a final look the night before, he says. “The Balmain dress was so major on its own … I just wanted the hair to look wet and completely undone.” And though it looks simple, Kardashian’s hair actually took several steps to achieve. After washing her hair, Ramirez prepped her locks with Mizani 25 Miracle Milk to protect the hair. After parting an inch around her hair line, he used edge taming gel while brushing and pinning everything back. After spraying from roots to ends with HRM to hold everything in place, Ramirez brushed the hairline he initially left out to cover the rest of her hair and hide the pins. To set the final look, Ramirez used his blow-dryer on a low setting and finished with Mizani Hi-Def Shyne spray to create the”super shiny wet look,” he says.
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Jennifer Hudson’s Sharp Cesar Cut
“I wanted to really let her H&M fantasy, whimsical dress be the star of the ball,” says Ramirez of creating Hudson’s sleek look. The process took about an hour, and included clipping in pieces of Indique pure hair prepped with Mizani Thermasmooth system to help achieve the smooth look. After drying and flat ironing, the stylist went in and created texture with a razor to create an “edgier feel,” he says. To give it even more texture, he ran a dime-size of Edge taming gel to diffuse weight on her sides while pumping up volume up top.
LaLa Anthony’s Pony with a Twist
“I absolutely love my hair because Cesar included the tech theme with the foil,” Anthony tells PEOPLE. “The wiring still allowed me to feel glamorous and beautiful.” At Anthony’s dress fitting, Ramirez “studied the lines and shapes” of her gown and imagined a “Fifth Element meets modern-day glamour” ponytail. Starting on clean hair, he smoothed everything using the Mizani Thermasmooth system and One Styling Tools flat iron. Sectioning about an inch wide above each ear to the back of her head, Ramirez then braided her hair to add texture and a foundation for the bands and silver leafing. Using 22 inches of Pure Wavy Hair from Indique, Ramirz added drama to her look by creating the long ponytail, which he wrapped in silver wiring. He then attached hooked elastics from braid to braid to create the rippled texture from the top of the pony. “I really had a lot of fun with this look,” he adds. “These are some great ways to innovate a pony tail.”
— Melody Chiu