“Tomihiro Kono’s wigs are for everybody…” writes Anna Battista in her introduction to the multi-talented hair artist’s second book, Personas 111. That in mind, tour its 176 pages and you will also find a wig for just about anyone or any attitude. Just in time for the long stretch of social distancing, Kono catalogs his endlessly inspired wigs for every pastel shade of your self-isolation blues. Photographed by Sayaka Maruyama, The Art of Wig Making 2017-2020 showcases multitudes of his handmade wigs that marry transformative styling and craftsmanship––something the Japanese-born wig maker mastered over the course of his colorful 20-year career. His choice to use a single model, Cameron Lee Phan, underlines the magical attributes of each wig as they transform Cameron’s character and showcase the élan with which Tomihiro Kono invents or interprets a range of styles. “I selected Cameron as a model because I was inspired by their androgynous look that is Asian mixed,” says the hairstylist, continuing, “They also remind me of a Greek statue in a way.”
Before Kono can imbue a wig with personality-shifting powers he begins first by draping lace fabric on a head mannequin. “Making the foundation is very intricate work, and it needs technique to make it fit the person’s head shape.” It’s not until after this that he can employ his expertise as a hairstylist and head prop artist having been tapped by Junya Watanabe Comme des Garcons and across fashion working for major clients. “The process that is artistry and aesthetic would be the design of the face line––that makes an impression of the character. Also hair-coloring and styling,” he says. Though mining from fashion’s history, Kono often mentions Marie Antoinette as a baseline for inspiration. Still, his wigs come across motley in their assortment and are painstakingly one-of-a-kind. Kono explains the process can take “2 to 3 weeks to make per wig in average, but it all depends on density and details.” The lengthy undertaking makes the comprehensive collection even more impressive.
Like everyone, Tomihiro Kono’s plans have also been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, which has disrupted the launch of Personas 111. “I was supposed to be doing an interactive wigs exhibition which was scheduled for March. It was where viewers could actually experience the instant transformation with my wigs, but now we’ve decided to postpone, which is a shame.” Luckily, the physical book itself is still available to enrich your downtime. For more information visit www.konomad.com.
Images courtesy of Tomihiro Kono