Every spring/summer season cornrows always feature in the runway shows, so whether you call them Canerow; Cornrow; Cascadu; Box Braids; Ghana Braids; Dutch Braids; Fish Tail; they are a cool (and cooling), fun, individual and practical hair style for all; especially now that the summer and festival season is well and truly here.
In 2003 a frenzy erupted when David Beckham’s hairdresser styled him with cornrows. Nearly every tabloid ran a feature on it, the way they carried on you would have thought he invented them. To paraphrase the daily mail’s history of braids…’it was a way for slaves to tame their unruly hair’. The thing is, hair braided close to the head is nothing new. It’s been here for centuries and ‘unruly’ is not the word I would have used. Strong. Is the word.
Unlike other hair types if afro hair is not braided while wet the curls shrink to a quarter of their length; it’s then murder and I mean murder to comb it through…tears are likely to be shed by all involved.
So when I was a child; our Sunday night routine was; wash hair and braid immediately. That’s also when I figured as an eight year old, I would never be able to leave home until I learned to plait my own hair — obviously I was years away from independent living but the thought crossed my mind and I started practising non the less.
In my early teens I grew out of braids and opted for the Curly Perm (Gerry Curl depending on which side of the Atlantic you live). But by my mid thirties the more creative and sculpture-like cornrow styles drew me back. The whole process really is a form of 3D art. To create the small tight braids and patterns you really need fingers like knitting needles. The partings make or break a style, they have to be crisp, and I mean meticulously crisp so the hairdresser is not only very creative but practical and logical too — not traits that normally go together.
Some of the top session hairdressers I’ve worked with are amazed by the precision and technique of my styles, I can’t take the credit for that though, all accolades go to Box Braids Boutique. I simply wear them well!
Julie Jacobs is a make up artist and contributing editor to Cent magazine