By: Escher Walcott
Whether you’re from New York, Paris or Jamaica, the durag is an engrained staple within black culture all around the world. While black men have worn durags for years as a style statement as well as a means to preserve waves, braids or a fresh trim, black women’s use of the durag has been kept more of a practice behind closed doors. That is until recently. Rocked proudly by artist Rihanna for the first time ever on dual covers of the May edition of British Vogue, there’s no escaping the association of the durag with a black woman here. For years artists from 50 Cent to Usher have been photographed wearing the silky headscarf at public events, with no heads turned. This cover is revolutionary, yet also highlights the delay in openly accepting the durag as equally connected to black women as well as black men.
“Celebrating this staple as a part of the culture of black women, not only educates others but instills more confidence in us to continue to reveal our own style and beauty rituals.”
Being a Brit who loves fashion, the moment fashion director Edward Enninful stepped in as Editor-in-Chief for British Vogue, I was excited to see how he would transform the publication – and boy has he. Creating ground-breaking moment after the other, Enninful continues to connect black culture with high fashion as expressed so clearly on these latest covers. Separately, Rihanna has incorporated the durag within her look a few times in recent years. Performing ‘Work’ during a dancehall-tinged set at the 2016 Video Music Awards, the Bajan singer wore a loose netted style and in 2017 included lace durags in her Fenty x Puma collection. In 2014, Rihanna famously attended the Council of Fashion Designers of America awards wearing a Swarovski crystallized version, turning the staple into an haute couture headpiece.
Another celebrity who created an impactful moment with the durag recently was Solange Knowles. The singer paid homage to black culture at the 2018 Met Gala wearing a black durag to match her black PVC number designed by Iris Van Herpen, along with a braided halo. Seeing this staple rocked as plainly as it is at home by so many black women at such a fanciful event, instilled me with pride and surprising emotion as I wasn’t used to seeing this image so publicly. This was a true visual ode to black women and I was here for it. Since then, Beyoncé has followed her sister’s suit bringing the durag to light in her visuals. She was seen rocking a black and white piece in her ‘Bigger’ music video last year, along with numerous extras sporting contrasting greens styles.
It’s great to see more and more black women in the entertainment industry recognizing the durag as a symbol of black beauty. Alicia Keys hosted the 2019 Grammys wearing a colorful printed piece and new artists Summer Walker and Saweetie have styled out a few durags in recent months. Celebrating this staple as a part of the culture of black women, not only educates others but instills more confidence in us to continue to reveal our own style and beauty rituals. For this reason, the latest British Vogue cover gets a thumbs up from me.