The “Venus of Willendorf” was blessed with a lot of things: a heaving bosom, a fully engorged bottom and hair that was capped full of an intricate woven-like texture; exactly what that woven-like texture was has been debated by historians for decades. I’ll get to that in a minute but first, despite being alive almost 30-thousand years ago, it’s my opinion that Venus was the kind of woman men wanted to “know” and women wanted to be.
There’s no evidence to support my opinion; it’s more of a hunch, a lucky guess. I mean, I’m no archaeologist (a person who studies past human activity.) I’m just a fashionista (a person who studies past and present fashion,) but just the fact that someone went out of their way to forever immortalize Venus, by making a beyond feminine limestone figurine in her likeness, means to me she was probably a pretty popular girl. A hot lil’ number, if you will.
Venus’ figurine was unearthed by archeologists back in 1908 at a paleolithic site in lower Austria. Historians all agree she probably lived during 28,000 BCE. What’s more, they think she was probably the ‘IT’ girl of her generation. Her body features indicate that she was at her sexual peak; fertile, if you will, and rich. If you were pleasantly plump (like her statuette) back in the day, you had enough money to be well-cared for and well-fed.
While historians all agree on her beauty and importance in her community, it’s her hair that’s baffled ‘men’ for decades. The debate is about the aforementioned intricate woven-like texture on-or-in her hair. Some say Venus wore a basket on her head; others believe it to be a detailed maze of plaits. Plaits is the old school word for braids.
Well, I know women and they don’t wear baskets over their heads. I mean, maybe on their heads for practical reasons, like carrying things, but not over it. What’s more, if you were rich, fertile, fabulous and pretty much the talk of the town, why would you cover your face? I say, as a fashionista, the “Venus of Willendorf’s” woven-like cap was definitely braids. Her hair was probably long, so naturally her intricate plaits cascaded past her face, hugged her neck and found their resting place on her shoulders.
Furthermore, carving a limestone figurine to show the detailing of woven hair 30-thousand some odd years ago was probably difficult, if not impossible. I’m assuming the artist/sculptor did the best he/she could, but the muted interpretation and the years of wear and tear on the statuette has left a lot of hair raising questions.
So, why in the world is it so important to know if Venus was actually sporting braids or not? Because if she was, she would be the first woman on earth to be recorded and or documented as “Beautifully Braided.” Yup, she would be the first chick ever to be ‘pictured’ wearing braids. For me, and a lot of uptight historians, that’s pretty significant.
For them, it’s a study of human behavior and patterns. For me, it’s the birth of a timeless fashion trend, which doesn’t happen everyday. It wouldn’t be fully solidified until years later. The woman in charge of that was Cleopatra. While the last active pharaoh of Ancient Egypt was a beautiful seductress, a champion of many languages and an infallible ruler, she was also a fashionista at heart.
Although she probably didn’t know it at the time, the Queen of the Nile would be the woman to give the braid its ever-lasting fashion staying power. While history proves that she was, indeed, naturally attractive, it’s also recorded (in great detail) that she was a master of disguise. She went to great lengths to manipulate and manufacture most of her beauty. Making herself otherworldly. Especially her hair.
Cleopatra took the twisted trend to an entirely different level by weaving her dark raven hair with golden charms and extravagant beads. At times, her hair was even laced and adorned with opulent material like silk. When she was young, Cleo wore longer braids, but as she reached maturity (around 21-years old,) her locks were shorn into a drastically short cut. This day and age, we call it a bob.
With heavy bangs and a severe neckline, Cleopatra became famous for braiding her hair into what would appear to be a cap. Perhaps she was inspired by “The Venus of Willendorf” after all. Atop her cap full of braids, the Queen added extravagant headdresses decorated with snakes, birds and extraordinary jewels. Most of her headgear is forever immortalized in paintings, petroglyphs, statuettes and busts.
When Cleopatra committed suicide, she may have taken her life, but the legacy of her beauty and her braids lives on. Matter of fact, it’s never quite been repeated. There have been some memorable moments, though.
Like Bo Derek, running down the beach in the movie “10,” with her wet, salty, beaded braids seductively trailing behind her. Or, as of late, Daenerys Targaryen (Khaleesi,) from the hit HBO show, “Game of Thrones.” Her braids are as intricate and complex as the character herself. Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist in the “Hunger Games” trilogy, is another braid-a-licous babe. Her hair knots are fantastically futuristic and practical. I mean, one needs that kind of hairdo when trying to survive murder and mayhem on the ultimate reality TV show.
The good news is, you don’t need to be a sexpot, a mother of dragons or a futuristic reality TV star to be “Beautifully Braided.” The twisted trend of the moment is top braids with loose wavy hair (pictured in the blog.) The goal is to feature your face by twisting your front hairline back. The rest of your locks should be tousled and textured.
Braids are perfect for the Miami girl trying to beat the heat and humidity. It’s an easy way to stay fashionable and fight the frizz. Low side braids are in, too. They’re easy, elegant and perfect for a day party or an after-five event. The loose fish tail, also worn to the side, is more of an edgy, romantic, fashion forward look.
To get your braid to stay for a couple days, a holding product before and after is key. If your twisted sister makes it through the night, use a soft brush or a comb to tame fly-aways. Next day braids, which I love wearing when I travel, especially on long plane rides, usually morph into something more relaxed and casual.
Whether you’re channeling Venus, Cleopatra or any of the mentioned modern day babes, being “Beautifully Braided” is a look that never goes out of style and that’s why this wonderfully woven trend is one of my favorite things.
Dress: purchased at Kore Boutique, Miami
Ring: Jill Zaleski, One of a Kind Jewelry @JillZaleski FB, IG & Twitter
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photography by tod p/t4twophotography
Hair & Make-up by Odette Hernandez
Editor: Matthew Auerbach