The Rue du Château d’Eau in the 10th arrondissement is a so-called mecca of hair salons in Paris. Home to a huge number of hair suppliers, wig makers, and beauty stores, the area is also where The Community chose to set up shop. Taking over an old barber shop – the traces of which can be seen in the marks on the wall where mirrors and display cases have been removed – The Community was founded by an art collective of the same name, and has played host to a series of exhibitions, events, and fashion parties.
Last weekend saw the space taken over by renowned wigmaker Tomihiro Kono, who created an installation showcasing his handcrafted hair pieces. Kono was taught the art of Geisha hairstyling by a Japanese master and has collaborated with the likes of Junya Watanabe and Comme des Garçons throughout his two-decade-long career, making each wig from scratch – he painstakingly hand-stitches each and every strand of hair onto fine lace net.
Amongst the wigs on show were towering, Victorian pieces and Rococo-era bouffants inspired by Marie Antoinette’s signature look, all the way through to punky, spiked, and brightly-coloured styles. “I dye each by hand to make special one-off colours, and I wouldn’t say I have a favourite,” explains Kono. “The long red hair, which people call the Grace Coddington, the peachy orange mohican, or the short bright green bob are some that I really like though.”
Featuring wigs hung from the ceiling as if they were floating, people were also encouraged to try pieces on and pose for the in-house photographer, with the resulting images due to be released in a new book later this year. “Kids were especially excited to try on the wigs, although they were shy in the beginning,” says Kono. “I loved how it brought everyone together and the exhibition turned into an amusement park for people.”
As well as inviting Parisian locals to be a part of his photo series, Kono is also currently working on a personal project with Scottish photographer Albert Watson. Together, the two have been making theatrical characters inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream and clowns, and shooting them in a series of atmospheric settings. “When using extravagant, classic wigs, it’s easy to transform the models into fantasy characters,” says Kono. “We’ve been doing this series for a year now, and it’s a pleasure to work with such a legendary photographer as Albert. I like the dark and romantic mood of the images. They’ll be exhibited later this year in galleries in Canada and possibly Europe, too.”