A hair artist’s crowning glory

 
 
 

When it comes to styling natural locks, Nikiwe Dlova is the queen. Her crowning jewels? Beads, braids, and wool extensions. The renowned hair artist’s creations are an artistic and political statement. In South Africa, hair has been used as a tool for oppression, from pencil tests during apartheid to rules at schools that still prohibit dreadlocks and afros. “There’s nothing new in people discriminating against African hair,” Dlova says. “I want to put an end to that.”

Experimenting with her friends’ hair in high school helped Dlova create the unique styles that would become her signature pieces. “I use hair as a means to express myself,” Dlova says. “It’s a fun way to show my personality and tell a story.” Whether piled high on her head or falling below her knees, Dlova’s work never fails to capture attention. “Most of my headpieces are inspired by African hairstyles they used to do back in the day,” she says.

When she’s not switching up traditional styles, Dlova delves into the conversations surrounding African hair with her blog. Since its launch in 2016, the artist has been featured by Elle South Africa and Afripop Mag. “People of all races have responded to my work and they love it,” Dlova says. With her head held high, she’s getting her message out. “I want people to own their crowns,” Dlova says. However you choose to style your hair, wear it with pride.