How Priyanka Chopra Jonas Slipped into Retro-Future Glamour for ‘The Matrix Resurrections’ Premiere

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In the intervening time since the third Matrix installment arrived in 2003, there has been cause to contemplate alternate realities. The original film’s red pill, blue pill dichotomy resurfaced as a pop-culture meme and alt-right metaphor. Neo’s lank black wardrobe filtered through the Balenciaga crowd. The notion of elastic time and walls as aqueous portals—well, that’s what happens when pandemic home life meets a new era of mind-bending recreational pursuits. But for Saturday night’s premiere of The Matrix Resurrections, in San Francisco, the events were foretold by other means. “We had a call a couple days ago about this,” hairstylist Bridget Brager says by phone from the Ritz-Carlton, shortly after styling Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s hair into lived-in, sideswept waves. It sounds like a line from the script when Brager adds, “Everything was premeditated.”

Dressing up for an iconic sci-fi franchise is a more layered challenge than the usual premiere. For Chopra Jonas, who plays Sati in the film (a character that Brager describes as a “badass—she’s tough”), the dress she landed on with stylist Law Roach evoked a sense of outer-shell protection, with floor-length sequins for a pixelated shimmer. A flame-orange detail sweeping diagonally across the bodice at once recalled a pageant sash (the actor won the Miss World pageant in 2000) and a warrior shield. 

From left: Anomaly’s dry shampoo helped set the buoyant waves by hairstylist Bridget Brager. The evening’s Halpern dress.

Photographs by Amber Asaly.

“We wanted to make sure to strike the balance of bold and kind of cool,” Brager says, describing the sweet spot that she and makeup artist Jo Baker zeroed in on. With someone like Chopra Jonas, “you can’t strip down her beauty, but we wanted to edge it up,” the hairstylist added. That included an aerodynamic take on the cat eye: three crisp racing stripes in lieu of the traditional flick, which Baker created with a Max Factor liquid liner. For the hair, there was a nod to a classic curl set—with a “little bit of fuzz” that speaks to our not-too-precious moment. As Brager puts it, “I wanted it to be so sexy-cool.” 

Chopra Jonas, striking a warrior-mermaid pose. Styling, Law Roach; makeup, Jo Baker.

Photograph by Amber Asaly.

The look started even before Chopra Jonas entered the hotel room. “The first thing I asked was, ‘What did you wash with?’” says Brager, explaining that the actor had just come from a round of New York press, where the hairstyles ranged from sleek blowout to hip-length ponytail twist. The response—a charcoal-based clarifying shampoo and volumizing conditioner, both from Chopra Jonas’s sustainability-minded line, Anomaly—was precisely the right answer. “I needed her hair squeaky clean and without weight,” says Brager. She set the hair in a “glamour wave” using a 1.5-inch T3 curling iron, and then raked a wide-tooth comb through for loose separation. To maximize the volume, she layered in Anomaly’s dry shampoo—”It kind of works as a dry texture spray,” says the hairstylist—in between rounds of back-combing. The effect was a structure that could withstand a night in high-humidity San Francisco; she did a light once-over with Virtue’s Un-Frizz Cream, followed by a cloud of R+Co’s Featherlight hairspray. “It feels like Elnett, but it doesn’t smell like Elnett,” laughs Brager, using a word that hasn’t always been synonymous with Old Hollywood hair: touchable. 

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