The art of braiding hair has been around for centuries. The practice can be traced back 5,000 years, when various African cultures used braids as a way to identify a person’s tribe, age, marital status, and even religion. Elders would braid the hair of their children, who would then learn and pass down the skills to younger generations. Today, hair braids are popular all over the world, with many hairstylists modernizing traditional techniques. Alejandro Lopez is one of those stylists. The self-taught, 21-year-old artist creates extraordinary hairstyles that put the common ponytail to shame.
Lopez’s love of braiding hair began when he watched a video tutorial on how to do a fishtail braid. Then, when he was studying in cosmetology school, braiding quickly became his favorite pastime. On his 19th birthday, he asked his mom for a wig, so that he could spend his evenings practicing hairstyles. Two years later, it's clear to see how much Lopez’s hard work has paid off. His Instagram feed is full of mind-blowing hair braids, from intricate crochet braids to hair twists that look like roses. Each of his models have vibrant hair colors, and Lopez even adds beads, metal components, and fabrics to his hairstyles.
“I get inspiration from anywhere—from nature, from architecture, from just looking at fabrics, or beautiful trimmings and cords,” Lopez tells My Modern Met. “That can inspire me to create something, and what I like to do now is look at some of my older work and think of ways of how to reimagine it.”