Hairstyles through the ages

Words by Leah Ishmael-Lynch -

August 1, 2018

Hair inspiration can sometimes be hard to come by, so it has been exciting to witness the resurgence of African threaded hairstyles - from features in Beyoncé's videos to beauty bloggers recognising the benefits for hair growth. 

 Threaded hairstyles in Beyonce's Lemonade

In Nigeria and other African cultures, elaborate braided and threaded hairstyles can convey deep symbolic meanings - you could tell someone's social status, age, tribal and other traditions from the way their hair is worn.  

These styles were famously explored through the photographs of J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere and more recently revisited through the work of contemporary photographers and designers. Check out some of these amazing traditional styles through their lenses. 


1. J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere
Starting in the 1960's, the late Ojeikere photographed over a thousand hairstyles. His monochromatic documentary style beautifully showcased the re-emergence of traditional hairstyles following Nigeria's independence. 


Agaracha, 1975. J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere


Onile Gogoro, 1975. J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere


2. Medina Dugger
Medina Dugger's award-winning photoseries 'Chroma' is an ode to Ojeikere, with a colourful re-imagining of the captivating hairstyles. Dugger has described her work as an attempt to preserve the art form of traditional Nigerian hairstyles and to inspire people to appreciate all forms of hair and hairstyles. 


Maroon by Medina Dugger


Red by Medina Dugger


3. Juliana Kasumu
In her series 'Irun Kiko', Kasumu showcases modern renditions of the traditional threaded hairstyles characteristically worn by Yoruba women. 
She views her work as an important step in opening up dialogue on the ideologies attached to black hair and hairstyles. 


Irun Kiko 6 by Juliana Kasumu


Irun Kiko 1 by Juliana Kasumu



4. Busayo Olupona
Olupona is a Brooklyn-based clothing designer (originally from Nigeria) who was recently featured in Vogue. She created waves on Instagram with her behind-the-scenes videos and photographs of hairstylist Lizzy Oladipupo creating majestic threaded hairstyles in the Irun Kiko tradition, which Olupona paired with traditional printed looks for her latest collection. Photography by Neec Nonso
Threaded hairstyles in the Irun Kiko tradition


Threaded hairstyles in the Irun Kiko tradition. Photograph by Neec Nonso




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