AFRA combs through history with wearable art

The line of gold afro picks, hair beads, and braid locks celebrates African American hair culture

Two afra combs
Imagery by Vanessa Granda for AFRA
(Image credit: Vanessa Granda)

When hairstylist Nigella Miller launched AFRA last year, she hoped her line of gold afro picks, hair beads, and braid locks would elevate those, often devalued, objects of African American hair culture to the status to high-art.

three afra combs

Photography for AFRA campaign by Vanessa Granda and art direction by Con.cept

(Image credit: Vanessa Granda)

It was me wanting to replace these African American hair items with something that was more of a novelty piece, something that was more meaningful,’ says Miller, calling from the Brooklyn studio where she’s shooting the new line of wearable hairpieces that have just joined the AFRA collection.

Miller first made her name with Nigella’s Hair Studio, a New York salon that caters to all hair textures. AFRA, her latest venture, is an artistic expression of her own personal history and a larger celebration of Black hair culture.

Green afra comb in water

(Image credit: Vanessa Granda)

‘I feel like African American hair culture is so strong, it's so rich. It's very political and has so many histories tied in with it. So I wanted to kind of create a collection that was a representation of multiple worlds merged together, me being a hairstylist, being African American, being Guyanese, and being able to kind of see how my traditions play a huge part in how I wear my hair.’

The original line includes three different sizes of afro gold picks, intended for display, as well as gold hair beads and gold loc bands that are both wearable and decorative pieces.  

Gold afra comb

(Image credit: Vanessa Granda)

The popularity of the collectible art pieces brought with it a call for more wearable counterparts. Keeping the original look of the afro picks, Miller started playing with the technicalities of getting the pieces to stay in hair. The end result is a line of smaller, gold afro picks that join the hair beads and braid locks in the wearable AFRA collection. 

Long nail polished hands with small afra combs

Model Victoria Gomez with nails by Aja Walton and makeup by Shawnte Alexander

(Image credit: Vanessa Granda)

To celebrate the launch, Miller worked with her friend and photographer Vanessa Granda to produce campaign imagery that, ‘represents the resurgence of regal black hair culture into the modern world' and soon hopes to curate an exhibit for an even more expansive AFRA collection. 


Writer and Wallpaper* Contributing Editor

Mary Cleary is a writer based in London and New York. Previously beauty & grooming editor at Wallpaper*, she is now a contributing editor, alongside writing for various publications on all aspects of culture.

With contributions from