African American Hairstyles

In Detroit, African American hairstyles are not what your mama would wear.

At least not those featured at the annual hair show / performance art / entertainment event called Hair Wars.  At this extravaganza, you’ll see hairstyles like you’ve never imagined.  And it’s all African American hairstyles.

Consider this:

Perched on top of the hair model’s ornately coiffed head is a remote-controlled toy helicopter draped with human hair of its own, that can fly away and into the audience, where it zips around the air before returning to the model’s head.

A bouffant hairdo of gigantic proportions.  It features a zipper that opens to reveal Champagne service for two.

A giant beehive with a live python nestled cozily inside.

A spider web of human hair that spans close to eight feet from one side to the other.

Or an Asian-inspired hairdo that includes a pair of red dragons made of braided hair perched on top of the head.  As the kimono-clad model poses demurely at the end of the runway, smoke billows from the dragons’ mouths.

These show-stopping, jaw-dropping African American hairstyles are the brainchild of Detroit hairstylist David Humphries, who was working on the side as a nightclub DJ in the 1980s.  Humphries doesn’t create them all himself.  Instead, he came up with the idea of featuring fantasy hair designs for African American women each year at venues that have, of necessity, grown in size as popularity for the Hair Wars shows grows.

The Hair Wars shows are more show than competition.  No prizes are awarded but stylists invited to present their creations at the show plan for months, invest thousands of dollars, and even participate in the show alongside their hair models.  The prize isn’t there but the competition certainly is.

The Detroit Hair Wars event went on the road in 1994 and now travels to a dozen or so American cities, with plans for expansion of the tour.  With the fame generated by Hair Wars, Detroit has become known as the hair capital of the world for African American hairstyles.

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