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How to Wear Fashion's Newest Braid Obsession

Cornrows are having a moment on the small screen--ahem, Orange is the New Black--and on a high fashion platform, seen in multiple Vogue Paris editorials and at the fashion-heavy Met Gala. With all this buzzing around the tiny braids, we decided it was time to try the look out for ourselves.
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I’m assuming at this point that you have seen (or at least heard about) Orange is the New Black, Netflix’s women’s prison comedy (dramedy?). I’m obsessed with it and was pretty much Crying Game-level-devastated when I finished it. Damn you Netflix for giving me the option to binge, you know I can’t control myself!

Anyway, I’m always looking for characters to obsess over, and my favorite is--spoiler alert!-- was Tricia. My favorite part of Tricia’s look was her cornrows. They gave her that sexy swagger and I-don’t-give-a-fuck ‘tude one would expect from a lesbian convict (with a heart of gold) serving hard time for some sketchy bizness, right?

Cornrows are also having a high fashion moment.

Both Carine Roitfield and Emmanuelle Alt seem to have an affinity for cornrows. The style has been featured in Vogue Paris several times over the last few years. The magazine's March 2010 issue featured Anja Rubik with a perfect-for-the-heat half wrap-around French braid, half cornrows created by Eugene Souleiman (with the most perfectly sun-kissed makeup to boot).

Less than a year later, Vogue Paris published one of my favorite editorials of all time, featuring Karmen Pedaru rocking James Pecis’s perfect cornrows and rolling in statement jewelry--she even makes a mouth guard look hot. Yes please!

My latest cornrow obsession/appreciation is Camden Road's August 2013 editorial featuring American stunner Amanda Murphy. Masculine tailoring, shaggy fur, and ears adorned with silver hoops are perfectly complemented by the tough-yet-polished ‘do. And paired with the Kenzo eye sweatshirt? Come on. Editorial perfection.

The thing is, cornrows are an art, and I’m assuming they're super difficult to do--properly--on yourself. Luckily, the look is popping up everywhere in a less traditional all-over-the-head way, which makes it much easier to experiment with at home.

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My personal cornrow journey isn’t one for the ages. Instead of letting me get them done on vacation as a child, my mom did them for me. They were too big and way too loose, but you have to appreciate her effort.

But in 2013, I'm taking a different approach, inspired by Ken O’Rourke’s version, as seen on Kristen Stewart during the FW13 Paris Couture shows, and Cara Delevingne at this years Met Gala: Deep side part and just one singular braid, hugging the scalp.

For the most part, this style works best with day-old hair--the extra grit works wonders to keep the braid intact. First spray a salt spray like Sachajuan Ocean Mist all over your hair, to give a bit more kick, and hold.

After parting your hair (go deep or go home) and securing, take the remaining one-third of hair and starting braiding a traditional braid, in the middle of the tuft, right at the hairline. After two braiding movements, add a little bit of hair to both strands at a time, as if it were a mini-french braid. Then switch back to a traditional braid, and continue to add to your braid every two movements. You will get a feel for how much hair to add each time the more you do it, but start small.

After you have incorporated all the hair, and braided down to the end, secure with a small clear rubber band, and mist with Elnett. Use your fingers to muss up the style a little, and voilà!

It takes practice and patience, but looks awesome once you get it right (as you can gather from my photo, I’m still practicing).

Fashionising has the best rundown of the style I’ve found. Peep it here.

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