How hip-hop made the schoolgirl hairclip a big boy move

Claire’s Accessories was a plasticated Mecca of your sister, your cousin and your junior school girlfriend. Not for you. But after a stomp towards the left-field in grooming and hair care, it seems that hip-hop is pinning the schoolgirl hairclip to everyone else. We’re all welcome at Claire’s now – and Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Gucci.

Since the dawn of hip hop some 50 years ago, fashion has never been the same again: without hip-hop there’d be no eternal streetwear boom, no sneakerverse in its current hyped form, no diamond chains or rings. But often overlooked is the genre’s influence on hairstyling and trends.

From Snoop Dogg embracing schoolgirl bobbles to Lil Yachty’s red braids to Post Malone’s barrettes and A$AP Rocky’s rich lady pearls, rappers have often set the status quo for the next big hair-related thing. While Prada and Jack Grealish are fuelling the return of the Alice Band, hip-hop artists are making a strong case for hairclips.

Back in July, A$AP Rocky took to the stage at Rolling Loud Festival in Miami with a head full of pearly hairclips. Barrettes, snap clips, slides – there were so many, his signature braids were barely visible beneath. For extra style points, the rapper also went for a pair of matching pearl-embellished Louis Vuitton sunglasses.

Cardi B and Offset at Paris Fashion Week this summer

Arnold Jerocki/Getty Images

High fashion brands have been signalling the return of the hairclip since 2019. British designer Ashley Williams quickly gained a cult following for her slogan-based rhinestone creations: “Fuck”, “Sad” and “Anxiety” becoming instant favourites. Burberry and Gucci released logo and monogram-embellished versions, respectively, in 2020 that did the rounds on Instagram.

But clips arguably re-entered mainstream consciousness when Solange Knowles’ dropped the cover for her album A Seat at the Table in 2016. Shot by Carlota Guerrero who specialises in capturing female subjects in an honest way, Guerrero and Knowles wanted the singer to mimic Mona Lisa herself. Guerrero said in a 2021 interview with The Guardian that her hair symbolises Solange’s vulnerable, transitory state. After the artwork steeped in Black pride was unveiled, fans took to social media to post photos of themselves as honorary pastiches.

Now considered one of the best album covers in recent memory, hip-hop took note. In 2019, Post Malone uploaded a selfie wearing Saint Laurent barrettes that spelled out “Call Me” –– sending fangirls into a frenzy. Last year, Bad Bunny hit the Met Gala red carpet in a custom-made Burberry suit with golden floral clips in his bouffant hair. More recently, just like A$AP, Offset headed to the Balenciaga Couture show in July with bejewelled bow, heart and B-shaped clips covering his bantu knots. For a demographic that enjoys the spotlight, hairclips offer rappers yet another way to make a statement –– and it’s far more explosive than any Claire’s Accessories boom.

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