It’s that time of year again where we dust off our feathery headgear and pull out our brightest co-ords ready for another Notting Hill Carnival extravaganza. Dating back to the 70s, the carnival epitomises our artistically talented and culturally diverse community. The creativity and imagination that goes behind planning the route, the performances and the behind the scenes coordination that is required to make it a lively and enjoyable event for all carnival goers is truly amazing.
Reaching nearly 1 million attendees each year the celebration has evolved into one of the world’s largest street carnivals and boasts an incredible display of Caribbean heritage. From dancing to traditional reggae, meringue, calypso, rumba, and zouk music to street vendors selling foods like seasoned jerk chicken, callaloo, and traditional goat stew. A lot of the Caribbean foods have roots from cuisines of Europe, America, China, and Africa. Our mouths are literally watering right now.
And those costumes. When it comes to carnival attire we can’t help but think back to Rihanna’s scantily clad bejewelled costume when she was back in Barbados for the Crop Over Festival – she looked beautiful, like a mesmerising blend of unicorn meets mermaid. Pure fabulousness.
But looking back over the years, Notting Hill Carnival costumes are now much more than just feathers and diamantes, there’s body paint, glitter, roller blades, capes, wings and even stilts. Not to mention the elaborately decorated floats and musical instruments making their way down the parade route.
We absolutely love these larger than life, colourful and bedazzling costumes. So, what do you need with an extravagant costume? Extravagant hair, of course. We’ve picked our favourites from Instagram to give you some inspiration before the main event. Enjoy!
Braids and Rings
Braids are a great way to keep your hair off your face, especially in the summer heat. They’re particularly useful when you’re surrounded by equally sweaty bodies all day as you trod your sore feet around London. Wiping damp strands off your face is never attractive, so this is a practical alternative. But it’s not just practical – it’s pretty, too. Try a Dutch braid if you haven’t before and accessorise with some hair rings throughout to give it that summer carnival vibe.
Check our Instagram story over the carnival weekend for our ‘how to’ videos – straight from our stylists to you.
Add a bit of sparkle to your hair with cleverly placed accessories. Sometimes, the best hair accessories are the ones which were never intended for your hair. You can even use old necklaces and buttons to adorn your up do. But here’s a tip, if you fancy wearing a statement piece in your hair, keep your hair updo quite simple to avoid it looking too busy. After all, you don’t want to end up stealing thunder from the old 80s pearl necklace that you went to the trouble of finding (thanks to your mum’s spring clear out).
The heat can become almost unbearable during the summer months, especially in a busy city like London and especially during a large-scale event like Notting Hill Carnival. Enter our friend and timeless classic: the scarf. Not only can scarves make a hairstyle fun and colourful, but they also offer much needed sun protection. Plus, there are so many ways to wear them: turban scarf, rolled up retro, wire bow, faux updo (the illusion of having way more hair than you actually have), plaid bun, the bandana (or hippie scarf), maiden braid, knotted bun and not forgetting the classic 1950s style. There are so many more, so keep an eye on our Insta as we’ll be showcasing some great scarf styles and how to create them (it’s surprisingly easier than you think). Why not ask your stylist about this when you’re next in your local salon? At the end of your blow dry, pull out your fav silk scarf and ask your stylist the best way to accessorise your hair with it.
Have you been thinking about dying your hair a crazy colour but chicken out when you sit in your salon chair? How will I maintain it? Will it look as good as it does on those perfectly shot pics from my Pinterest feed? These are commonly asked questions, and the answer is… maybe. Maintaining coloured hair requires at home care as well as regular trips to the salon to allow experts to replenish your colour. But, that’s not to say you can’t have a colour and a style that fits in with your lifestyle. Carnival colours are all about being bright and colourful – so why not try a low maintenance look that still means you can head into the office without the fear of sticking out like a traffic light after the bank holiday? Subtle colours with a root shade mean you don’t need to worry about regrowth as much as you would with an all over shade. Adding bright tints to the ends of your hair can also give off a carnival vibe without the long-term commitment. However, if you’re a commitment-phobe looking for an even shorter life-span for your hair colour then try spray in colours that will wash out in one go. However if you’re prone to sweating a lot in the sun just be warned that colour vibrancy may disappear much sooner than you’d like. Oh, and there’s also the possibility of it raining on bank holiday, but hey, that almost never happens, right?
It all started with our eyeshadows. Glitter ruled our makeup drawers in the 70s, 80s and 90s and it’s now resurfaced in places you probably didn’t expect. Sprinkled into the roots of your hair? Sure. Adorned around your eyes to give a festival-esqe vibe, great. Replacing the need for clothes with glittered boobs? Um, of course? No place is off bounds when it comes to glitter, and although it may mean finding glitter in the strangest of places for weeks to come, the results are totally worth it. If you’re a glitter virgin, we recommend trying it out in your hair first. It’s easy to apply too; just use a generous amount of hairspray on a strong parting and sprinkle away like salt bae himself.
If you fancy keeping hair off your face in the summer heat but still want the feeling of loose hair, (how else would you be able to flip it?) then the high ponytail is a good option. Crimp your hair like Ariana and spritz some dry shampoo for added volume and texture, or you can bejewel your hair in true carnival style – we love how Perrie Edwards’s hair gems match the gems used on her eyeshadow ?. If like some, you rarely have your hair up and are afraid of ‘too much face’ pull some loose strands from around your hairline to frame your face for the best of both worlds.
Not another space bun
Variations of the space bun continue, this time with a healthy garnish of cute braids as well as multiple space buns as supposed to your classic double-bun. We love triple space buns, styled low and messy, it’s quick to create and super chilled for Notting Hill Carnival on a hot summer’s day. But why stop there? Why not quadruple buns? The hair is your limit (it really is). If you’re looking for a more showstopping display, why not mohawk it out and style your buns in a vertical line, as supposed to side by side? You could even give Princess Leia’s style a modern, messy twist by pulling some strands out from the nape of your neck and the hairline around your face – another good one for those afraid of ‘too much face’. And how could we forget Miley Cyrus? She proved that short hair knows no bounds with her teeny tiny micro buns at the MTV Music Awards.
Braids intertwined with embroidery floss is not a new trend, but it’s a great go-to style for carnival goers. The temporary solution to brightening up your braids, keeping your hair off the face and the ability to go as bright as you want no matter how dark your hair is – it’s a win, win situ if you ask us. Speak to a stylist about getting braided up for the carnival.
An artistic way to add some depth and colour to your hair is hair graffiti. Created using a stencil and colour spray, this short-term style is perfect for any carnival or festival event. Turn heads with your own creation and speak to a stylist about recreating this look. All you need is a stencil and some coloured spray made especially for use in your hair.
Teens and Tots
Carnival fun is not limited to adults, get kids involved too! Put them in carnival mode by giving your brood some pretty, heart shaped braids, dabbling in some funky hair graffiti and glitter or if they’re on the slightly younger side just add a super cute bow to your tot. You won’t be able to handle the cuteness, trust us.
Simply pop in to your local salon and ask your stylist to recreate your chosen look!