Art is the expression of man’s imagination and creativity and braiding is a form of art, practiced by a lot of people for self-expression, to show personality, and also to express creativity. Braiding has been used by different cultures and people to celebrate culture, to show identity, and for beautification. With all these uses, braiding is worthy to be called a form of art.
Braiding as an art has come a long way and has also evolved and they are never going out of style. Braiding as an art form, is not just a skill or hairstyle, but also a form of social art that serves as a passage for many people to tell stories and express themselves.
We can all agree that braids have always been and will always be an essential part of our society and we should always appreciate their significance.
In this article, we will be learning about the history of braids, some talented black artists doing great in the industry, and exploring braided hairstyle inspirations for your next photo shoot.
History of Braiding
The practice of braiding has been around for many years and has been a part of different cultures. The art of braiding can be traced back to Africa where it was used to identify a person’s age, religion, and marital status and it also served as a form of bonding among black women. Different braid styles were used as a symbol of cultural identity and were used as a carrier of stories about their heritage and black culture.
In the slave trade era, braid hairstyles were used to pass on different messages, store food to help survive and tame their natural hair, and keep them neat while they were engaged in different slave activities. They were also used as a map to guide them on their journey to freedom.
In the 1960s, black activists used their hair as a form of artistic expression during the black power movement and hair braids were one of the significant African hairstyles used. Other cultures such as the Asians, also incorporated styles of braiding technique coupled with different ornaments and accessories.
Hair Artists You Should Know About
The hair industry has so many talented hair artists and we think you should become familiar with some of them. These hairstylists have used black hair as their canvas to express art through braiding.
Susan Oludele, also known as “African creature” is a Nigerian-American hair artist who is known for her own distinct style of hair braiding.
She has worked with celebrities such as Solange, Amaarae, Arsema Thomas, and many others. She has also featured and worked with remarkable brands like Teen Vogue, Essence, and Converse. Susan also owns Hair by Susy, which is a hair salon based in NYC.
Helena Kodou, is an Ivorian hair artist popularly known for her unique and extraordinary braid designs. Her work has been featured in Vogue magazine, Essence, Paper magazine, and many others. Helena expresses art through gorgeous braid hairstyles which is evident in her contribution to the photo series project called “The Hair Appointment”. This photo series celebrates hairstyling among black people and the models used to tell the story had their hair styled by Helena Koudou.
Fesa Nu is an LA-based hair poet, who is the founder of “The Art of Hair”. She has worked with celebrities such as Yara Shahidi, Halle Bailey, Chloe Bailey, Tracee Ellis, and many others.
In an article with Vogue, Fesa showcases hairstyling as a form of poetry. Fesa refers to herself as a hair poet and expresses her art through hair styling. Fesa mostly creates hairstyles inspired by African culture and adds her own unique touch to it. She uses her art as a medium to celebrate the divine nature of African culture.
Nikki Nelms is an American hairstylist known for her innovative and culturally remarkable braiding style. Nelms has been in the industry for over ten years. She tells stories and creates art of hair braiding through different hairstyles. Nelms has worked with celebrities such as Janelle Monae, Zoe Kravitz, Venus Williams, and many others. Nikki’s work shows how resourceful and creative she is and she remains an inspiration to other hairstylists out there.
Keanna Williams is an Amsterdam-based hairstylist who celebrates African culture with her art and is inspired by herself and the people around her. Keanna is multi-talented and also does photography and creative direction. She has featured and worked with companies such as Vogue, Elle, Daily Paper, and Cosmopolitan. Keanna has also styled celebrities like Jorja Smith, Alicia Keys, and Lewis Hamilton amongst others. Keanna Williams is represented by the Amoy group.
Agnes Ashi also known as Aggie Hair is a LA and Washington DC-based hair stylist that specializes in hair art, editorial, bridal, red carpet, and lifestyle hair styling. In an interview with shoutout LA, Agnes says self-care is important to her and believes it enables her to offer the best experience to anyone who sits in her chair as hair deserves to be treated with love and care.
Agnes’s work is usually inspired by culture and bringing her client’s vision to life and she believes hair holds a deep personal and cultural importance. Agnes has styled celebrities such as Marsai Martin, and Michelle Williams among others. She also styled the models for the recreation of visuals from Nigerian artiste Tiwa Savage’s hit song “49-99”. This project was used to raise awareness for the EndSars movement in Nigeria.
Agnes Ashi is represented by texture management.
Braiding As an Art: Gorgeous Hairstyles in Editorials
Hair styled by Nikki Nelms for InStyle magazine. Photographed by Chriseanrose.
Hair styled by Helena Koudou. Helene brought this hairstyle to life with a creative strategist, Tolucoye and it has now become a hairstyle that clients love to recreate as their everyday look.
Hair styled by Helene Marie. Photo by Bigpicturecarlos
Artist, Shavonec, styled by Fesa Nu for Tiktok visionary voices black Hollywood brunch.
Hair styled by Aggie hair.
While the slick look keeps your face snatched, add some drama to the top with these well-structured braids and top it off with some hair jewelry for braids like gold accessories.
Finger waves but make it braids? Sign me up! This timeless braided finger wave hairstyle is by Aggie hair. Photo by Nayoaphoto.
Switch up your style with these gorgeous ginger bantu knots with some single braid pieces.
The style of braiding done here is called “didi”, which is a traditional braiding style of the Yoruba tribe in western Nigeria. Hair styled by Joke Lawal.
Taiwo is a website content writer and a hairstylist specializing in protective hairstyles. She owns a hairstyling business based in Lagos, where she creates content and markets through social media. Check out her Youtube channel, Stylistondutyng, where you can see her passion for braids in her videos.