If we had to pick one celebrity who consistently surprises us when it comes to their beauty looks, it’s Janelle Monae. The girl continually slays every time she steps out on the red carpet. We rounded up some of our favorite of Monae’s hairstyles to use as inspiration for our next big event. From hair clips to gems to rope, in braids, twists or buns, the triple-threat gives us infinite hairstyle ideas.
Monae has hairstylist Nikki Nelms, or the Hair MacGyver as she calls herself on Instagram, to thank for her stellar looks. Nelms was even responsible for dyeing Monae’s armpit hair that pretty pink/orange shade a few months ago. Nelms continually pushes the boundaries of what a pop star or A-list actress is supposed to look like on the red carpet. She’s also helped change the game when it comes to natural hairstyles. There are no beach waves here. But Nelms doesn’t want her work to be seen as a political statement. Women of color have been wearing natural hairstyles since the beginning of time.
“I don’t want to come across as this ‘radical.’ They ask what message were you trying to send with the natural hair on the carpet and I’m like, ‘Message? It went with the dress! Simple as that,” she told W magazine. “There are black girls that just do nice hair and it’s not ‘a message’ or they’re not trying to save the world with their hairstyle, you know. I want the freedom that others have when they ‘just do hair’ and that’s it, they’re not trying to save a culture with an updo. I don’t wanna save my race with an updo. If I could, I would, but that’s not what I’m thinking about—I just thought it went nice with the dress.”
Relive some of these killer hairstyles, below.
At the Balmain Fall Winter 2020 show at Paris Fashion Week
At the 51st Annual NAACP Image Awards
At the opening night premiere of Queen and Slim in Los Angeles
At the Harriet film premiere in Los Angeles
At the UglyDolls film premiere in Los Angles
At the 2018 Hollywood Film Awards in Los Angeles
At the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Los Angeles
At the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in New York
At the 2017 CFDA Fashion Awards in New York
At the 89th Academy Awards in Los Angeles