// The humble braid has remained a staple hair style for a long, long time.
How long? Only about 30,000 years.
Since humans first embraced the dexterity of our 10 digits we’ve been creating, manipulating and changing our hair, but there’s only one technique that’s lasted throughout time.
Cultures have used the braid for the purpose from something as simple as hygiene to being a highly symbolic part of their hierarchal social identity.
Read on if you enjoy a good historical download:
It’s well documented Egyptians wore intricately woven strands with beads and jewels (side note: being the original goddess’, they also invented the hair extension). This kept them both cool in the desert heat while protecting them from rampant lice infestations which found a tight braid difficult to burrow into.
The Roman Empire took their class system very seriously, the higher up in the hierarchy you sat, the longer your hair was and women of leisure grew their hair long and showcased it with hair-ups, combining braids and twists into ancient works of art.
Native Americans, (both male and female) wore their hair in braids that both told a story and identified them. In some tribes, men would style their braids to help in their physical and spiritual preparedness for battle. In others, women who were not married would wear their hair in braids while married women of the tribe would leave their hair out.
One of the more noted braiding cultures which still influences modern trends is the ancient Celts, and more so the Vikings who were synonymous for a great Braid.
Men and women’s hair was generally worn long, with those of the higher class using accessories with metal-based ornaments or ribbons to decorate their elaborate locks.
Young unmarried women were the most likely to be seen with long, loose hair and would feature fewer braids - As seen with Australia's own Alyssa Sutherland below who plays such a role in the TV show, Vikings (which is worth watching for the hairstyles alone).
<< While the middle ages saw covered locks as a “style of survival” in a time where a lack of modesty could see you burned at the stake for practicing witchcraft. Popular styles for non-witch types were the braided crown, fishtail and double-braided bun which were usually worn underneath a head piece.
From hereon braids “weaved” (sorry) their way “in and out” (sorry again) of fashion, all a mere variation on a theme, and this was also true for one particular braid which dates as far back as 3000 B.C.
The cornrow while popular in the 50’s and 60’s went from being "popular" to a "cult trend" in the 90’s, where it’s been said NBA Basketball player Allen Iverson launched the humble cornrow to a stratospheric level of popularity. And it appears it’s maintained it’s place as a popular timeless look ever since thanks to the likes of Beyonce, Alicia Keys and dare we say it… errrr David Beckham?!
It's fair to say, any fashion that survived the 90’s could be classed as timeless. And it certainly seems to be the case with braids.
With the roots of a great braid dating back to before we officially measured time, the technique may have altered… but only a modicum from how Nefertiti had her maids spend hours doing her own.
So how do you do them?
In the coming weeks we’re going deeper into the braid showing you not only the basics, but also tips and techniques that will keep them looking sharp and fresh for weeks to come.
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We saved one of the best and most iconic till last - Bo Derek.