As much as we’re obvious fans of digital media, there’s nothing quite like getting your head stuck into an old-fashioned book. In celebration of World Book Day we round up some of our much-loved reads written by black women that cater to us as hair, beauty and fashion enthusiasts. Let us know in the comments if we’ve missed out your personal faves.
How To Slay: Inspiration from Queens & Kings of Black Style, Constance C. R. White
Constance C. R . White has enjoyed an illustrious career as an award-winning journalist, taste-maker, former editor of Essence magazine and style reporter for the New York Times. To say she knows a thing or two about fashion is a vast understatement. The style maven recently released a style book titled How To Slay, which takes the reader on an inspired journey through black fashion in America, starting from the early 20th century to the present. The coffee table style book explores the cultural and social underpinning on dominant trends fashion trends which were created by African Americans but have gone on to influence not only mainstream America, but the entire world. Containing striking images of iconic figures renowned for their sense of style including Rihanna, Naomi Campbell, Miles Davis and Pharrell, this is definitely one for fans of fashion, style and culture. Purchase here.
Hair Story: Untangling The Roots of Black Hair in America by Ayana D. Bryd and Lori. L. Tharps
For a comprehensive study of black hair and the inescapable social and political issues which arise from whatever styling choice we make as black women, Hair Story: Untangling The Roots of Black Hair In America is a must-read for those who want to delve deeper beyond the superficiality of hair. Written by Ayana D. Bryd and Lori L. Tharps, the two gifted writers provide us with a chronological study of black hair, dissecting and providing context on every given trend, tracing from fifteenth century Africa to the noughties. No hairstyle is left unexamined, including the polarising and often ridiculed Jheri Curl which reached ubiquitous status in the ’80s. This is an engaging, informative, analytical, yet celebratory read, which definitely deserves a prime spot on your bookshelf. Purchase here.
I AM IMAN – Iman
Iman is a model/fashion icon, and successful beauty entrepreneur who founded her eponymous makeup brand Iman in 1994. Her emergence into the fashion industry in 1975 was a fabricated story which has become the stuff of legends: the then aspiring model was introduced to the fashion elite as a goat herder who was said to be discovered by fashion photographer, Peter Beard. In truth, the model was the daughter of a diplomat and was a student studying political science in Nairobi when she was ‘discovered’. This part-memoir/part lookbook, published in 2001, was Iman’s way of taking back her narrative, penning the authentic version of her life story interspersed with stunning imagery of the model who is often described as one of world’s most beautiful women.
The Science of Black Hair by Audrey
For book worms who like to really get into the nitty-gritty of the science of our uniquely textured coily follicles, a copy of The Science of Black Hair is a must. This highly-acclaimed tome by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy provides technical orientated information, extensive research, testimonies and jargon-free hair care tips, which ultimately provides the reader with salient pointers on how best to care for her crowning glory.
How I Grew It Long…Naturally by Diane Hall
If you’re really, really keen to grow your natural hair longer, we recommend Diane Hall’s hair instructional book – How I Grew It Long…Naturally. Written by UK based former model, Diane Hall, the book is a super-practical guide comprised of Diane’s tried and tested hair regimens and recommended products. This is really ideal for those who are just starting out on their natural journey and perhaps overwhelmed by the plethora of information available, and just wants a simplified, easy-to-read hair manual. Pick up a copy here.
Better Than Good Hair – the Curly Guide to Healthy, Gorgeous Natural Hair – Nikki Walton
Another popular natural haircare manual, this time written by our sister across the pond, Nikki Walton AKA blogger Curly Nikki, Better Than Good Hair expertly mixes Nikki’s haircare tips with personal anecdotes written in the same style as her hugely popular site curlynikki.com which has since gone on to become one of the biggest natural hair platforms on the web. The prolific blogger graciously invites other popular influencers to impart their tips and hair hacks, resulting in a varied and well-rounded read.