The Beverly Hillbillies' Elly Mae Clampett would hardly be an out-of-place hick in Hollywood these days, at least when it comes to her thick pair of Appalachian braids. In fact, the Elly Mae look has suddenly become a celebrity hairstyle of the moment. Witness hair chameleon Demi Moore
, who wore braids to the opening in September of Planet Hollywood in Washington. A few weeks later Tori Spelling
sported the same do on Beverly Hills, 90210. And über waif Kate Moss
looked every inch the down-home schoolgirl in braids on the November cover of Mademoiselle. Says Tia Carrere, Wayne's World 2 babe and longtime braids fan: "They make you feel a little saucy, a little cute. It's goofy. And it's liberating to not have to deal with that hair."
Liberating is exactly what pigtails were for Madonna
, who spawned the craze when she posed for her book, Sex, in a Heidi-goes-Hollywood do and nothing else. Blind Melon singer Shannon Hoon took note and emulated the Blonde One's braids-in-the-buff style on the cover of the Nov. 11 issue of Rolling Stone. "A lot of people don't get it," says plaits-loving ex-Go-Go Belinda Carlisle. "But there's just something twisted and sexy about braids."
Sexy is right. "For women, braids remind them of their first crush, the first boy they liked, and that has allure," says designer Byron Lars, whose fall show was an all-braids affair. "It's an innocent sexiness." But L.A. hairstylist Eric Bilardi, who has put Daryl Hannah, Jane Seymour and other stars in braids, believes some style-conscious women consider the look nothing short of ridiculous. Says he: "Maybe celebrities do it because any kind of comment is good, whether negative or positive, as long as they get a reaction."