Renowned wigmaker and head prop artist Tomihiro Kono has launched his second book Personas 111: The Art of Wig Making. In psychology, “Persona” is the social face or the personality that an individual presents to the world. Most people have several personas to cope with various societal situations. Persona is not the totality of one’s being, but rather a small component of a much versatile personality.
Hairstyles and identities are closely related to personas. We choose a hairstyle to express ourselves—our appearance is important to define who we are, attract, disguise, entertain, or play a social role. A wig is designed to make a definite impression upon others, but also to conceal the true nature of an individual. Wearing a wig can enable instant transformation.
Choosing a wig can be an act of self-assertion, self-defense, and self-realization. We are highly sensitive that our character can easily be changed in response to our hairstyle either consciously or unconsciously. Tomihiro Kono believes wigs have the positive power to influence an individual’s personality, and help us find our ideal self.
“In Latin times a persona was a mask; today our digital masks have turned into persons that amplify our individual digital essence, letting our fake and intangible identities take over. Tomihiro Kono’s wigs are a reaction to our digital society and a way to reclaim our physicality: with his creations, the artist and designer invites us indeed to go over a physical, rather than digital, transformation. A wig by Tomihiro Kono is therefore a ‘mask-thrix’—a mask for the hair (‘thrix’ meaning ‘hair’ in Greek), a symbol of an existential drama and the possibility of taking up not just one role, but multiple ones. By wearing a wig by Tomihiro Kono you can be anything and anyone but yourself. The promise is alluring. Enter the Mask-Thrix,” said Anna Battista.
Tomihiro Kono began his career by learning the art of Geisha hairstyling from a Japanese master working as a hairdresser in Japan for 10 years; he then moved to London where he became a session stylist and head prop designer culminating in his current evolution as wig maker since 2016 in New York. Pushing the boundaries of the traditional hairstylist, Kono has become a respected name in the fashion industry, creating bespoke headpieces and wigs and collaborating with designers such as Junya Watanabe and Comme des Garçons.
The launch of Kono’s second book will coincide with the showing of an interactive wig installation that has toured the globe at the Japan Society in New York on March 20. In the installation Kono experiments with his work finding ways to involve the viewer, allowing them to immerse themselves into the magical world of the wig maker and instantly transforming themselves into an array of eccentric characters by trying on the hand-crafted hairpieces.
Laura Regensdorf, Beauty Director, Vanity Fair, & Contributing Editor, Vogue, said, “The thrill of transformation is universal—never more so than now, as the longstanding barriers around gender soften. But so is the reluctance to change. In that way, the book functions like a handheld companion to Kono’s real-life installations, where visitors can try on his hand-knotted wigs and catch a frisson of an alter-ego. If the chameleonic nature of Personas has a gravitational pull—each otherworldly photo anchoring us to the page—its spirit of wild possibility sparks a new lightness of being.”
Photo: via Personas