There’s something magical about wigs. Their ability to transform, heighten or conceal your identity lends them an exhilarating sense of possibility. Wigs are powerful, they allow one to shapeshift into different characters or simply to express your true self.
This is something that’s explored in a new photobook from renowned Japanese hairstylist and wigmaker Tomihiro Kono. Titled PERSONAS 111 - The Art of Wig Making, the limited edition book follows three years on from his debut book Head Prop and features 180 pages of vivid, technicolour hair mastery.
Beginning his two-decade-long career by learning the art of Geisha hairstyling from a Japanese master, Kono has become a well-established name in the fashion industry, collaborating with designers such as Junya Watanabe and Comme des Garcons. PERSONAS 111 is the result of Kono feeling like it was time to move onto the next chapter of his career after the 2017 release of Head Prop. Evolving into wig making, the stylist spent four years intensively creating the works of art that now make up this new photobook. “Wig making requires all the skills I have acquired in my 20-year career as a hairstylist – from knotting hair onto a lace foundation in various directions and replicating in this way the natural growth of a person’s hair, to haircutting, styling, coloring, designing and sculpting,” Kono tells us. “It is a satisfying and almost mathematical process, very similar to that of a craftsman or an artist.”
For Kono, it is the blank canvas aspect of wigs that he is most drawn to and the endless possibilities they offer. “I can change the style almost forever by cutting, adding, colouring hair,” he says. “The wig itself transforms, which is cool.” Describing hair as a “creative curse,” the stylist sees wigs as the future of hair. “Wigs can be a new hair accessory for people to change and style depends on their mood,” he says. And if you are wondering where Kono finds the inspiration for his wild creativity check out Matthew Barney’s multi-media art and film project Cremaster Cycle. “Everything, including costume, direction and the hair and make-up is beyond my imagination and it’s so inspiring and new every time I watch it. It was shocking almost”