In Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America, the authors describe the origin of the word "dreadlocks." White people saw the "matted hair that had grown out of [enslaved people's] kinky unattended locks" and called it "dreadful." Over the following centuries, Black people dropped the negative connotation and reclaimed the ancient hairstyle. Locs have a place in a few different cultures globally, but hold a particularly important space in Black communities. Whether you're a club-crawling Atlanta denizen who likes locs for the look, a Rastafarian selling freshly-blended juices by the beach who wears locs as a nod to religious belief, or a CEO who prefers locs because the light maintenance fits into a busy schedule — where there are people of visible African descent, locs are often a part of the aesthetic.
When Allure looks at locs, we don't see anything dreadful. We see elegance. We see regality. We see luxury. And, nuclear medicine cisternogram if you've got the mindset of hairstylist Sherelle Holder, you see versatility. "You have people who are not comfortable getting locs because they feel like they’ll be stuck with one hairstyle." That couldn't be further from the truth, says the Maryland loctician and owner of Karibbean Kinks salon. "When a client comes to me sometimes, they don't necessarily have to show me a hairstyle they saw on someone else with locs," she says."They can show me a braided hairstyle or a hairstyle on [straight hair], and I can recreate it."
For Allure, Holder breathes life into our vision of locs, one that deviates from the Euro-imperialist gaze or Hollywood typecasting that paints all Black women with locs as Earth mama hippies. It's time to broaden the parameters and show the world that the types of women who wear locs are just as varied as the styles you can arrange them in.
The ladies who loc in 2021? Their vanities are lined with bottles of expensive perfume. They've got a few designer pieces sprinkled through their wardrobes, and they spend their weekends drinking rosé with their friends. They are well-heeled and well-connected. They certainly don't subscribe to the belief that locs are unprofessional when they power walk into their corporate, fashion, or government offices on Monday morning. They may burn a sage bundle or incense here and there, but their personalities will not be flattened by the imaginations of people who don't understand them in the first place.
Our loc ladies are limitless and their hair reflects that. Just like the people who wear them, locs can be molded into ceiling-grazing shapes and gravity-defying designs or they can be curled and dyed to suit your mood. There are even loc extensions if years of growing doesn't fit into your busy schedule. For Allure, Holder arranged models' locs into magnificent, shapely works of art. She created a literal crown (complete with jewels), uplifted a ponytail with wrapped gold wire, and even brought forth a physical manifestation of how Black women connect with each other by literally conjoining the models' locs. "We're all connected [by the beauty of] our natural hair."
These styles may not be terribly difficult to recreate, but the layered profundity of them, of the simple, effortless elegance, speak volumes.
Stylist: Rasaan Wyzard
Hair: Sherelle Holder
Makeup: Mariko Arai
Prop Stylist: Kate Stein
Models: Marianna Taylor, Omega
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