Esperanza: The Fro’s Great Hope

February 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

There have been many a fine lady to rock the infamous afro. Diana Ross, Angela Davis, Tamara Dobson, Pam Grier with recent tease-outs by Jill Scott and Erykah Badu. But the Fro on everyones mind lately is none other than Jazz impressario, Esperanza Spalding. This unknown artist, burst onto the scene, took that Grammy and left a gob-smacked mainstream in her wake. It was a delightful surprise when I discovered that Esperanza means Hope in Spanish. You can’t beat that with a bat. Her music is refreshing, with a distinctive voice that nimbly skips along her dark, dreamy, bass notes. Without a doubt, her remarkable debut has the jazz world all a flutter. So lets leave her technical prowess to be relished by the experts. Instead, I choose to focus on her equally ingenious sense of style and individuality.  Many have dubbed her  a “new hope for jazz.” More like new hope for the Fro. Damn girl!

So lets get down to it; this chick has some serious style going on. Other than that masterful Afro, Esperanza mixes that 70s hippy-chic with some power-suit 80s, inspired tailoring.

Her elegance translates from harmonies to these outfits with ease. The necklace she wore at the BET awards was literally tiers of tan-gold plumes cascading over her cobalt gown. It was so delicate it reminded me of dream catchers; totally exquisite and I’m convinced I can replicate it. (Look out for future posts, I’ll do a tutorial for springtime). Same goes for that feather hairpiece she dangled from her necks nape. Wisps of cockerel feathers dangled gingerly adding a wonderfully primal touch to her bright outfit. These feather adornments are worn so naturally, it reveals her Native American ancestry.

As a refreshing twist, she uses a crisp, white collared shirt as her staple, pairing them with high waisted trousers, vests, and suspenders. That 80s heavy colour matching is in effect when she sports a red tie, with equally hot peep-toe pumps. These sharp ensembles, befit with windsor knots and layers of jewellery have her going from the office to a drum circle in less than 60. I really appreciate her ability to riff on these eras with the ingenuity of her be-bop training.

The one element that ties these vintage looks together and makes her undeniably Esperanza is that fro teased to fluffy proportions. Its that texture and body that hints to the exotic and allows her to standout from her cookie-cutter counterparts. The afro makes such a powerful statement; it embodies a sweeping decade of change and the truism that Black is Beautiful.   The undeniable candor and wit of Angela Davis was an inspirational backbone to the Civil Rights Movement. And who is unable to succumb to Pam Grier’s striking action physique? Amongst all of these icons, we find a new generation sometimes unable to live up to these great expectations. If her recent victory is any indication, I have hope.


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