Solange gave us the anthem — Don’t touch my hair. Like, at all. Since then hair has been a recurring theme of her art. For her SNL debut in November Solange enlisted 28-year-old Chicago braiding wunderkind Shani Crowe to create a Zaire-inspired crystal halo.
Solange teamed up with Crowe again in January for a live braiding show and the results are stunning.
While young black girls are often given intricate braid styles, they are typically seen as juvenile on black women. In some instances fear of professional discrimination or social ridicule keeps black women from being more experimental with cornrows. But there is no doubt that these styles are beautiful and exquisite. As I look at them I wonder, will cornrows ever be a common style for black women into adulthood?
In an April 2016 interview with Fusion Crowe discussed the cultural importance of braids, and the danger of them being lost to black people due to appropriation;
“Braiding is a sacred art in a lot of ways because it’s so rich in tradition—a lot of times we don’t really understand how much it means. I’ve always done hair and there were times when [braids] weren’t really as popular and I didn’t do them as much, but [now] all these white girls are coming out wearing cornrows. Someone asked me, “Do you do boxer braids?” and I was like, “You mean box braids? What the hell are boxer braids?” And she was like, “Those braids that Kim Kardashian wears.” Kim Kardashian just has straight-back braids and they aren’t even done that well, they looked pretty popped, and popped in Chicago is not a good thing. Because [braids] are coming out in pop culture and being exploited as a trend in the fashion scene, I think it’s important for me to honor them, before there’s a time when people don’t even remember them as a traditional black art. Plenty of cultures do their own braid styling, but African braiding has its own very long chapter in the history of braiding. I felt charged to make them tangible in a way where I could create an icon that honors my experience with braiding, my love for my clients and a celebration of black feminine beauty coiffeur in my own words, in my own images outside of magazines.”
Ladies, what do you think? Will cornrow styles ever become popular among adult black women?