The Artist Behind Solange's SNL Headpiece

Other | Thursday 10th November 2016 | Isidora

Solange Knowles looked angelic this week when she graced TV screens to debut singles “Cranes in the Sky” and "Don't Touch My Hair" from her acclaimed third studio album A Seat at the Table.

She appeared on late night comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live in a shimmering ensemble that consisted of silver boots, white hot pants and a white crop top, underneath a custom made crystal dress by Erickson Beamon x Swarovski. But what really caught our eye was the strikingly intricate, halo-like headpiece she was wearing.


The creative genius behind Solange’s headdress is Chicago-born artist Shani Crowe. In an interview with Fusion earlier this year Crowe explained that she began what was to become a career in artistic hair braiding at a young age - by 11 she was creating styles that “attracted a client base”, some of whom she retains “to this day”. Solange was drawn to “Fingerwave Saint”, a piece from Crowe’s most recent show Braids, using it as the basis for her SNL look.



In FADER Crowe elaborated that Solange, having seen set her sights on “Fingerwave Saint”, wanted to customise Crowe’s original piece in order to create a “highly reflective look”. Solange sent Crowe some “images of bedazzled clothing she was inspired by” for her to work best “within those parameters” and bring their joint vision into fruition. The final product was made from “over a hundred feet of braided hair layered and wrapped around an armature”, Crowe said, and “strung with around 2,000 Swarovski crystal beads in three sizes, two colors, and two shapes”.

Crowe’s headpieces are not just innovative artistically - there is an underlying cultural reclamation that her work signifies. Crowe laments the mainstreaming of braids, which are “being exploited as a trend” in “pop culture” to the extent where their origin as “a traditional black art” is forgotten. Crowe endeavours to re-instil a sense of pride to a tradition that is under threat, by offering “a celebration of black feminine beauty coiffeur” in her artwork.





Humble and gracious as ever, Solange tweeted later on in the night thanking SNL “for having” her and “to all who watched and showed love”, reassuring fans that “she had a great time”, in spite of what she deemed were “imperfections and [her] nervousness” that transpired during the two performances. All we can say to that Solange is: imperfections? Where?  

If you missed it, be sure to check out her enchanting performance of “Cranes in the Sky” below: