Fans Think Janelle Monáe Is Sending Us Hidden Messages With Her Hair

Photo: Mike Pont/WireImage.
Janelle Monáe has always kept us guessing. Whenever she's set to appear at a red carpeted event, we often anticipate how she'll play with her preferred black and white palette. Fans are often asking (and tweeting) about when she'll release a follow-up to her bestselling album, The Electric Lady. And now, she's making us wonder about the hidden meaning behind her choice of hair accessories.
"From the eyes, to the gold wire, and then to the white safety pins...can you guess what messages I am sending and speaking through my hair?" she captioned a recent Instagram, where fans threw out their best guesses. And for the record, some of their tries were pretty damn good. "I am awake..tuned in and protected," one wrote. "The message I'm getting from your hair from left to right 'look but don't touch'," another commented.
But Janelle's keeping her mouth shut — at least for now — and so is the hairstylist behind the work, Nikki Nelms. "It's her image, so whatever she wants people to know..." she teased to R29 during a recent interview. Nelms is the perfect person to accompany Kravitz on this journey — she's used to thinking out of the box with her clients, a list that includes Solange (see her A Seat at the Table styles) and Zoë Kravitz (check out her blond braids and curls from the Oscars).
"The period we're in now is very freeing...If you like it, do it!" Nelms told us about the looks. "When we free ourselves with being concerned about someone else’s opinion then we can go so much further. You’ll be surprised how far your creative juices will flow if you just free yourself of worrying about what someone else thinks. If I were scared, do you think I would have picked up some eyes at a craft store to put in Janelle’s hair?"
While Nelms vows to remain tightlipped about Monáe's messages, we did get her to spill a few behind-the-scenes details. Read ahead for the big reveals.
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Photo: Via @janellemonae.
Googly Eyes

Nelms has an eye for design — and for a bargain, too. "I shop for my kit in the most random places, like Michaels and Home Depot — I will buy anything there," she says. "When I went to Michaels for the eyes, I picked them up in all different sizes. I had these little thin hair pins that I bought in Japan, they’re really thin and flexible. I glued the eyes onto the hair pins, bent them, and popped 'em in."
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Photo: Via @nikkinelms.
Gold Wire

...Except it's actually not wire. "It’s really flimsy, almost like string," Nelms reveals. "I coiled it as I pinned it in to make it look stiff. It gave it a more 3D look. I have to think about what could happen when I am not around, so I think that string works best [if the client has to fix it.]."
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A post shared by Janelle Monáe (@janellemonae) on

Photo: Via @janellemonae.
Diamonds & Pearls

At the Golden Globes, Nelms really wanted Monáe to shine on her big night (both Hidden Figures and Moonlight were nominated). "Those are pearls. I knew the dress would receive a lot of attention, and I didn’t want to compete with it," she says. "Her hair ended up getting just as much attention, and I think that happened because it wasn’t competing. What we have been doing with the eyes and the pins was a little more animated and I felt that something as simple, small, and dainty as the pearls could be a version of this — but a softer version."
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Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic.
Safety Pins

"I thought they were really cool. They resembled the look of her outfit, which is what made me want to use them," Nelms says. "They’re safety pins, but they leave little lines in the hair, so it complemented the design of her outfit — it worked in my mind, so I tried it."
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Photo: Via @janellemonae.
Chanel Flower Clips

Believe it or not, Monáe and Nelms don't use a inspiration board for their creative collaborations. "I used to feel bad, like I wasn't professional enough, but [then I realized] that it's just not my thing," she says. "I go off the vibe, the mood, the event, and how the client feels. Sometimes when you overthink, you overdo, and it’s not cute. I let the moment lead me."
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Photo: Via @nikkinelms.

Another necessity for Nelms? Texture. "It keeps your style looking not too staged or prom-y," she says. "It reads more like, 'this is who you really are,' not like, 'oh my god, I am on the red carpet'. The hair just reads better that way to me."
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Photo: Via @nikkinelms.
Love Clips

"For this look....all u need is LOVE... and a few #hairpins... and some #hairspray... and a few #pearls... and a DOPEa$$ client," Nelms captioned an Instagram of the style.
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