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Japan’s Harajuku girls and Ethiopia’s Omo tribe united by their love of hairclips

  • Japan’s Kawaii girls and Ethiopia’s Bana tribe share a love for piles of colourful hair clips
  • In Tokyo, clips are worn on fringes alone with the majority choosing girly shades of pink and lilac
  • The Bana take a bolder approach with beautiful block colours and intricate patterns reigning supreme 
  • Bold hair accessories are a big S/S15 trend, with Dolce Gabbana among designers to show them 

Ruth Styles for MailOnline

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When Dolce Gabanna sent models sporting piles of colourful hair accessories down the catwalk during their S/S15 show, the fashion world swooned in delight.

But the designers’ source of inspiration for the look is an unlikely one – the colourful Bana people of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, who like nothing better than intricate piles of brightly coloured hair clips.

And they aren’t the only ones who love a good hair accessory. Ever the early adopters, Japan’s Kawaii girls have enthusiastically embraced the look, although their colour of choice is pink in all its shades. 

Pretty: A pair of Japanese Kawaii girls show off their collection of hair clips - all in varying shades of pink

Pretty: A pair of Japanese Kawaii girls show off their collection of hair clips – all in varying shades of pink

Bright: A girl shows off her hair clips Fringe benefits: A boy keeps his fringe in place

Bright: The Bana tribe of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley have long adored colourful hair clips but wear theirs differently to the Kawaii girls

By contrast, the Bana use them to clip their fringes in place, choosing striking rows of clips in alternate bright shades or, in some cases, in shimmering blocks of silver. 

In Japan, pink is most popular, whether bright fuchsia or delicate powder shades – all perfectly in keeping with the Kawaii ‘Sweet Lolita’ sub-set which sees women pile on as many frills, bows and ruffles as they can.

Clips are worn dotted across fringes, combined with girly bunches or worn clipped on to candy-striped headbands. Floral pattern and Hello Kitty designs are also loved.

The creative use of accessories will come as no surprise to anyone who has followed Japan’s adventures in fashion, with the country producing a fascinating range of style tribes.

Girly: Along with every shade of pink imaginable, Japan's Kawaii girls like delicate patterns, whether floral, polka dot or candy-striped

Girly: Along with every shade of pink imaginable, Japan’s Kawaii girls like delicate patterns, whether floral, polka dot or candy-striped

Style tribe: This girl has combined elements of the Kawaii look with sporty stripes and a chic neon pink scarf

Style tribe: This girl has combined elements of the Kawaii look with sporty stripes and a chic neon pink scarf

Pile it high: Never knowingly underdressed, these girls have added piles of necklaces, headbands and glasses to their colourful look

Pile it high: Never knowingly underdressed, these girls have added piles of necklaces, headbands and glasses to their colourful look

Keeping it simple: This fashionista has opted for a darker take on the trend, opting for white and silver bows, as well as a pair of pink hairbands

Keeping it simple: This fashionista has opted for a darker take on the trend, opting for white and silver bows, as well as a pair of pink hairbands

Cheerful: This bright ensemble is lifted by the addition of a mini crown - something also seen at Dolce  Gabanna

Cheerful: This bright ensemble is lifted by the addition of a mini crown – something also seen at Dolce Gabanna

Among the most creative of all is the hair clips’ most devoted group of admirers, the Kawaii style tribe which sees girls – and some boys – dressing to show off their individuality with takes on the look ranging from the Lolita (sweet and girly) to Gotchi (Gothic).

The antithesis of fake-tanned hair-extensioned TOWIE chic, Kawaii girls like pink, kitsch, tutus, delicate dabs of glitter, enormous false lashes, ultra pale skin – and plenty of hair clips.

The most common Kawaii style is named the ‘classic Lolita’, which despite referencing the Nabokov novel in the name, has nothing to do with looking sexy and everything to do with achieving a look that is as cute, girlish and pretty as possible. 

Based on frilled and furbelowed Victorian styles combined with a hint of goth, girls hope to achieve a porcelain-doll look using lashings of lace, ribbon, bows, ruffles, bloomers, aprons, and ruffled petticoats.

Then there’s the ‘Sweet Lolita’ look. Featuring even more ribbons, bows, and lace, than the ‘Classic Lolita’, it leaves out the gothic elements in favour of pastels.

Mixing it up: Like Japan's fashionistas, the Bana are fond of mixing up their hair clips with piles of jewellery - including head bands

Mixing it up: Like Japan’s fashionistas, the Bana are fond of mixing up their hair clips with piles of jewellery – including head bands

Popular: Bright hair clips are not a female-only trend for the Bana as this boy demonstrates. Good look: Bright sunglasses are also popular

Good look: Bright hair clips are not a female-only trend for the Bana as this boy (left) demonstrates. Bright sunglasses are also popular

Intricate: This man has used red and blue hair clips to keep his fringe in place and has accessorised the whole thing with a feather

Intricate: This man has used red and blue hair clips to keep his fringe in place and has accessorised the whole thing with a feather

Matching: This colourful pair have opted for a similar colour scheme, matching striped shirts and bright beaded arm bands

Matching: This colourful pair have opted for a similar colour scheme, matching striped shirts and bright beaded arm bands

Fairy Kei is also popular and involves giant bow headdresses or bonnets, teamed with lighter, less extreme make-up.

For the Bana, getting dressed is less about showing individuality and more about looking as bright and cheerful as possible. Beadwork has long been part of their culture, with many opting for colourful beaded headbands – sometimes combined with the hair clips.

Others, regardless of sex and age, adorn themselves with piles of arm bands, heavy metal necklaces and beaded belts in eye-popping shades of yellow and crimson.

However they are worn, piles of colourful hair clips have proved one of the most universally popular trends of 2014, with devotees also spotted at Glastonbury in the summer and at festivals across the globe.

And with scores of colourful hair accessories cropping up on the S/S15 catwalk, it is probably just a matter of time before they show up on a high street near you.

More is more: This lady has combined no less than three clusters of hair clips with huge beaded earrings, a lariat and a head band

More is more: This lady has combined no less than three clusters of hair clips with huge beaded earrings, a lariat and a head band

Beautiful: As this photo reveals, her simple t-shirt is almost hidden by her beaded belt and breast plate and she also carries an umbrella

Beautiful: As this photo reveals, her simple t-shirt is almost hidden by her beaded belt and breast plate and she also carries an umbrella

Striking: Headscarves and bold earrings also go well with the piles of clips

Mix and match: Head bands aren’t the only way to brighten up a look. Headscarves and bold earrings also go well with the piles of clips


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