The world is finally discovering that Black hair is about more than the strands on our heads. It’s a crown that speaks to inheritance and identity. Black hair has over the years kept families together on Sunday afternoon as mothers, aunties, sisters and daughters braid coils into intricate styles in circles as they share age-old techniques. Even for Black men, cutting our hair in barbershops created an atmosphere for esprit de corps that was much needed. As an industry, hair has created jobs and economic growth.
Black hair is community. Black hair is business. And Black hair is also poetry. It’s the voice telling different stories for Black communities. There are a few women leading this revolution of hair poetry all over the world. Here are the three of the most talented Black female hairstylists creating poetic works of art with their styling.
Born in Ivory Coast, Laetitia Ky grew to love the art of hair braiding by styling her mother and sister’s hair at the tender age of 5; an indulgence that has defined her current path as a hairstylist and designer today.
Ky had a Picasso moment when she realized that hair can be more. The natural artist took the bold step by creating a sculpture made out of her own hair intertwined threads and coils of wire. The final work found a place on her Instagram feed where a large number of followers were amazed.This was the beginning of Ky’s hair sculpturing journey.
Ky’s hair sculptures are powerful political expressions that are poetic in nature, lingering on themes of freedom, identity and social issues that affect Black women and other marginalized groups. Prominent works include a piece that addresses the issue of sexual harassment and victim shaming (she captures through a man looking up the skirts of a young woman all made out of hair). Another popular work revolves around the #Blacklivesmatter and #EndSars protests and address the menace of police brutality. Her feminine silhouette figures also celebrate womanhood and all the beauty that comes with it.
Check out Laetitia Ky’s Instagram to keep up with more of her whimsical and poetic hair sculptures.
Hair means history, beauty and art to Fesa Nu . It’s a means of expressing who you are, who you can be and who you want to be. It’s limitless. The South African freelance hairstylist and makeup artist began her love story with hair just as a means of survival—her mom couldn’t style her hair.
Fesa Nu’s early gravitation towards hair transcended into a love for makeup which complements most of her works with hair. Today, Fesa Nu, now based in Los Angles, has transformed her passion for Black hair by creating beautifully bizarre hairstyles that are essential symbolic sculptures. Like crowns gracing the heads of queens, these hairstyles tell stories of Black pride and history. They are a lover’s poem to the young African, especially the females to embrace their natural hair that makes them uniquely beautiful.
Taking inspiration from Black women on both the African continent and in the Diaspora, Nu’s artistic hairstyles have been featured in music videos and editorials, like Chloe & Halle’s Blanc Magazine feature.
The artist’s personal project dubbed, The Art of Hair, is a more extensive form of her art that recounts tales of Black women all over the continent. Through an Instagram series, she highlights hairstyles with inspiration drawn from African countries like Ghana and Nigeria.
This talented hairstylist really has beautiful hair poetry to share with the world and you can join her here.
Braiding hair was a huge part of Taiba Akhuetie’s childhood. After gaining insight into different techniques, she decided to move her hair braiding side hustle into a full time business. In 2014, she launched Keash, which has grown from a hair salon into one of London’s prolific beauty and grooming creative agencies.
Akhuetie is known for creating new hair styles and tailor-made hair menus for events and brands, based on season and current trends. Her designs are electric, featuring avant-garde styles in shades of neon and pastels that are truly poetic to everyone that sees it.
The braided hairstyles by Akhuetie, who has a Nigerian heritage, explores themes of love, self acceptance and identity. They celebrate womanhood and also highlight issues that affect women.
Akhuetie’s artwork extends its reins to men, like Grammy winning musician Burna Boy. Due to her creativity, she has worked with industry giants like Mercedes Benz Fashion and Beats by Dre. With these poetic hairstyles, Akhuetie is calling for appreciation of Black hair and culture and representation of Blacks and the Diaspora.
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Ekow Barnes is a culture writer living in Accra, Ghana. His writing has appeared in CNN Style, Essence, Vogue Italia, Vogue Business, Dazed, i-D, and more. As a writer & producer, he specializes in producing content in Africa. Ekow Barnes has a diverse portfolio of clients both internationally and domestically. His focus is on pushing emerging talents and showing their works to the rest of the world. I love to write and also producing authentic stories.