It has been revealed that hair stylist Latisha Chong has died at age 32 from metastasized breast cancer. Not widely reported at the time, Chong passed away in mid-July at a hospital in Manhattan, according to the NY Times.
Part of the New Black Vanguard, Chong’s final job was handling styling duties for Serena Williams‘ July 2022 Vogue cover. She’s styled hair for Tracee Ellis Ross, Adut Akech, Paloma Elsesser, Rosalía, among many more and was Telfar‘s hair director.
Writing about the Williams’ cover on Chong’s Instagram feed in August, her sister wrote, “While I will never be able to put words together as eloquently as her, my sister will be so proud of this moment. She was excited about this cover, not because it was Vogue, but because of the figure of greatness that will be gracing its cover. Serena Williams.
“Latisha strategized for weeks about the execution, and the overall look and feel for Serena’s cover, because ultimately she did not want to disappoint our community. I can’t tell you how many times she would sit there disheartened by the lack of knowledge on the manipulation and maintenance of black hair.”
Chong was born in San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago. When she was six, she and her sisters moved with their mother to Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood. Her mother worked part time as a hair stylist on the weekends and by age 10, Chong was helping out at the salon.
At age 19, Chong joined the Air Force and rose to the rank of senior airman. After being deployed in 2011 to Qatar, she returned home and was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Chong left the service with an honorable medical discharge in 2014 and went on to graduate in 2017 from Charleston Southern University, where she studied biology.
After graduating, she returned to New York and began to style hair again. She worked for Michelle Jone’s Thee Salon in Brooklyn, famed for its pixie haircuts. Designer Telfar Clemens was a family friend, and at first she styled his hair and then the label’ various campaigns.
Chong is survived by her two sisters, her son and her parents. May she rest in peace.