CHICAGO (AP) — A staple of the stylish grade-school set, braids have moved from the playground to the red carpet and now, local salons.
Salons from Los Angeles to New York and cities in between are weaving "braid bars" into their services, offering special menus of different braid styles for a fixed price.
Danielle Maddox, 25, a Chicago personal trainer, made an appointment at the Braid Bar at Maxine salon for a look to transition from work to a date night with her boyfriend. Stylist Cliff Freeman, who incorporates techniques from crochet and knitting classes into braids, twisted Maddox's hair into three French braids for a polished, finished look.
"It's nice to have a cute, low-maintenance style I can have for a couple days," Maddox said. "I can sleep on it."
Owner Maxine Kroll started offering the service in June after clients kept asking for braids. She transformed the retail area inside the salon's front door with a sleek white table and silver sign for her "bar."
Small containers on the table are filled with bobby pins, hair clips and rubber bands and sit next to hair spray and combs. A menu offers cord braids, French braids, waterfall braids and herringbone or fishtail braids.
Each service is $30, and clients are out of the chair in 30 minutes or less. The goal is to make a braid a fashion accessory, like a woman's shoes or purse, Kroll said.
"We can't escape it," she said. "It's in fashion. It's in Hollywood. It's in every magazine. There's going to be a braid in everything we look at for a while."
Starlets like Rihanna, Blake Lively, Jessica Alba, Lea Michele and Scarlett Johansson have been spotted recently sporting braids. Perhaps the most influential trendsetter, however, is "The Hunger Games'" fictional heroine Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who wears her hair in an intricate side braid throughout the film that was a huge springtime hit.