The 27-Year-Old Laetitia Ky, Who Sculpts Masterpieces With Her Own Hair
BY EMMANUEL AMOKE CHIDERA
Laetitia Ky’s journey began in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where her tumultuous upbringing, marked by her parents’ divorce, bullying, and a battle with low self-esteem, became the raw materials for her unique artistic expression. With her sculptural hairstyles, she fashions her experiences into intricate masterpieces, aiming to inspire black women who’ve faced similar struggles.
Ky’s remarkable artistry is marked by sculptural hairstyles created by weaving wire, thread, and hair extensions into her natural hair. The extensions are attached directly to her hair, and the sculptures are created in the process of styling. This distinctive hairstyle, which she calls the ‘Ky Concept,’ can take anywhere from twenty minutes to six hours to complete. In the beginning, her sculptural hairstyles consisted of braids wrapped in African wax print cloth, but she has since developed a unique, wire-based aesthetic.
While she holds a degree in Business Administration, her passion for art initially leaned towards fashion. Her artistic journey began when she decided to embrace her natural beauty, starting with her hair. According to her, she started searching for a solution to recover her hair loss when she discovered an American natural hair community online.
It was surprising to find out for the first time, black women who had their natural hairs on, a stark contrast to what she had grown up with. In her native country, she had never seen a woman with natural hair. This discovery led to her decision to cut off her relaxed hair, kickstarting her transformative path.
Ky’s art form particularly draws inspiration from the images of pre-colonial African women, adorned with sculpted, beaded hairstyles she saw online. Inspired to experiment with her own hair, what started out as a creative outlet gradually evolved into an intricate art form, with designs that became increasingly sophisticated in both their aesthetic and their message. From the simple and bucolic, to the domestic and personal, then to the bold and political.
Through her art, she explores topics such as gender equality, social issues, and body-positivity, inspiring women to speak out and advocate for change. While her early work focused primarily on gender equality, she has since expanded her focus to include racial justice and representation. She encourages women to recognize their worth and claim their power, speaking out against injustice and demanding respect and freedom.
At the beginning, it was only for fun and to show my creativity, but with time it changed… I saw the impact it can have on people so now it’s more serious, more engaged. I do it to send messages of self-love, tolerance, equality, and respect. I do it to try to ameliorate the world I live in.
Ky’s sculptures are a visual commentary on contemporary issues. They depict; a male figure looking up the skirt of a woman as a comment on the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and victim-shaming; her protests against American anti-abortion laws through the image of uterus with each fallopian tube flipping the bird; in one, Ky becomes an alligator crawling out of a swamp, her hair forming the alligator’s head; and others, where Ky’s hair is a womb on each side, instead of ovaries, there are two middle fingers; or a vagina with period blood pouring from it, etc.
With a growing international following, a partnership with TikTok, a move into acting, and a music collaboration followed with Di’Ja, whose hair she covered in printed wax cloth inspired by the hair of Himba women, Ky’s art breaks cultural and national boundaries. She also launched her fashion brand in 2018, and her book “Love and Justice” in April 2022.
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