Some see culture
Some see fashion
Some see lifestyle
I see a mix of all three
Durag Series is a photo series that features the du-rag also known as tie-down, wave cap, and do-rag. This series started in 2018 as a test-shoot and expanded into a larger documentary work in 2019. The work was mainly photographed in Montreal, Ottawa, and New York and resulted as Jessie Emile's first solo-exhibition in Montreal, November 2019.
Unlike popular beliefs, the du-rag was first worn by enslaved African American women in the early 19th century. A headwear originally conceived to wrap and protect Black’s natural hairstyle while working on the fields. Later through Hip Hop’s culture, it even became a must-have for Black men to achieve the best waves. It has become a pride symbol for Black’s natural hair and a fashion piece and statement.
“I knew I wanted to pursue this photo series as a larger project when I heard about this High School, where I grew up, not allowing students to wear du-rag at school when the majority are Black. It was, till that day, misinterpreted as ‘ghetto’ and associated with gangs; it hasn't evolved from the time I graduated from High School in 2013. The institution is indirectly or directly encouraging a stigma. This was the opportunity to document the du-rag in today’s society.”