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SLEEK STYLES: Naomi Richards (top), aged 19, often gets her hair braided. Her latest hairstyle took 2 hours but will last for nearly two weeks and Corey Smith (left), aged 16, has his hair plaited into cane rows. He got bored with having a shaved head and opted for this new style and (above) Lauren Smith, aged 10, shows off her intricate braids; LATEST STYLES: Karen Adenegan (top left) who runs family hairdressing business Heslyn's with her brother Nigel Smith and (centre) stylist Jeenett Knowle

ALICIA KEYS' sleek braided styles, Kelly Rowland's funky red strands and Mary J Blige's experimental colours have inspired some of the latest trends in Afro hairdressing. At family hairdressers Heslyn's in Coventry, Nigel Smith, his 21-year-old daughter Louise, sister Karen Adenegan and stylist Jeenett Knowle are keeping up with the latest hair fashions.

WITH her Cleopatra-style beaded braids, R 'n'B singer/songwriter Alicia Keys combines urban fashion with sleek elegance that reflects her heritage.

The 22-year-old former child prodigy is nominated for Best International Female Solo Artist and International Album for her debut, Songs in A Minor, at the Brit Awards 2003 on ITV this Thursday.

And girls of all ages from across the city are queuing up to get her look.

Nigel Smith, who runs 20-year-old family business Heslyn's in Corporation Street with his sister, Karen Adenegan, said: "The most common hairstyle girls asks for is Alicia Keys. She has taken over from Lauryn Hill.

"We get a lot of European girls coming in asking for braids and hair extensions too.

"Hair extensions can take up to six hours depending on length of hair and last three months. They cost between pounds 95 and pounds 120. One of our customers wanted blue hair extensions. We do everything - relaxing, perming, plaiting and colouring."

Naomi Richards, aged 19, from Eastern Green, who works part-time at BHS, often gets her hair braided.

She said: "I wanted something different. It took 2 1/2 hours but will last for a week-and-a-half. It cost pounds 35. Alicia Keys' hair is always good. I hope to train as a black hairdresser myself."

Karen said Alicia Keys is not the only celebrity whose style is closely followed.

She said: "It used to be Beyonce out of Destiny's Child all the girls wanted to look like but now it's Kelly Rowlands.

"The girls are all asking for red streaks like hers.

"Halle Berry is the other celebrity whose look is very popular."

Nigel says many of his male customers are emulating US rappers such as Shaggy, Sisqo and D'Angelo and going for cane rows when the hair is plaited into different patterns.

He said: "It takes around 1 1/2 hours to do and for most guys lasts a month. It costs pounds 45.

"We also have alot of Craig David lookalikes who have twists - when the hair is twisted into tiny dreadlocks every two or three weeks."

GCSE student Corey Smith, aged 16, of Ernsford, Coventry has his hair plaited into cane rows.

He said: "I started getting bored with having a shaved head and I started to grow my hair. My cousin Louise braids it for me into cane rows. It's nice and tidy. I think Sisqo's hair looks really good."

Nigel and Karen studied hairdressing at the Butts but were taught Afro hairdressing by their mum, Heslyn, a retired hairdresser.

Nigel Smith's 10-year-old daughter Lauren is a big fan of Alicia Keys and wears her hair in braids like her idol.

The schoolgirl, who attends Richard Lee Primary School in Wyken, said: "I like the patterns in it and the way it's braided at the sides.

"My friends think it's really different - not a lot of children have styles like this at my school. I can plait too.

"I like Alicia Keys' songs - I also like Nelly and Kelly, JaRule and Ashanti."

Dad of six Nigel, aged 42, said: "My daughter Louise, who is 21, also works here. She's been plaiting since she was a little girl and is very creative. She teaches plaiting at evening classes at Foxford School."


AS weaves and extensions have become increasingly popular with celebs from Mary J Blige to Sugarbabe Keisha Buchanan, demand is growing in salons across the UK:

THE AFRO - Big hair is back. Psychedelic rock star Lenny Kravitz wears his hair in a 70s-style Afro, as did Beyonce Knowles for her role as Foxxy Cleopatra in the third Austin Powers film, Goldmember.

BRAIDS - Alicia Keys and singer/actress Brandy.

CANE ROWS - US rap stars Sisqo, Shaggy, Sean Paul and D'Angelo

COLOURED HAIR - Mary J Blige loves to colour her hair. Pink, red, blonde - you name it. But to really experiment and for quick changes, she wears customised wigs and hair extensions.


EXTENSIONS - Janet Jackson and Keisha Buchanan, of The Sugarbabes have had their hair relaxed and extended.

TWO-TONE HAIR - Kelly Rowlands' red streaks first gained prominence in the video for Dilemma, her number one duet with rapper Nelly.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 17, 2003

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