Solange Beams

Solange Knowles dazzled the audience with more than just her voice during her performance on Saturday Night Live over the weekend. A literal halo of hair glittered around her as she sang and danced to songs off her highly-acclaimed new album A Seat at the Table.

That sparkling braid was created by Shani Crowe, a Chicago-native and Howard University graduate who has been braiding hair since she was 11 years old. Crowe tells The FADER that she worked for 50 hours creating Solange’s halo ‘do — using over 100 feet of braided hair layered and wrapped around an armature (and then decorated with 2,000 Swarovski crystal beads).

According to her website, Crowe’s work centers on “cultural coiffure and beauty ritual, as they relate to the diasporic African.” “Braiding is a sacred art in a lot of ways because it’s so rich in tradition,” Crowe told Fusion in an interview earlier this year to promote her art show BRAIDS, a series of portraits featuring ornate braids (Solange’s SNL look is based on a photo from that series, pictured below). “Because [braids] are coming out in pop culture and being exploited as a trend in the fashion scene,” Crowe explained, “I think it’s important for me to honor them, before there’s a time when people don’t even remember them as a traditional black art.”

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