Japanese wigmaker Tomihiro Kono combs through ideas on identity

Japanese wigmaker Tomihiro Kono combs through ideas on identity

In his new book Personas 111, wigmaker Tomihiro Kono examines the identity-shaping properties of hair

These days, identity is as much a verb as it is a noun. It’s something that is constantly in motion, ever changing and routinely able to morph from one thing to another. Japanese wigmaker and artist, Tomihiro Kono has released a new book that examines this mutability of identity through wigs.

Personas 111 displays an array of Kono’s masterful creations, from wavy platinum locks to cobalt blue mullets. The wigs, modelled by photographer Cameron Lee Phan, demonstrate the particular power hair has in shaping our perception of an individual’s character. ‘Wearing a wig also enables us an instant transformation,’ Kono writes. ‘It is fun to create multiple characters that exist in ourselves – it is almost like choosing your outfit of the day from your wardrobe.’

a man with purple wig
man wearing orange curly haired wig
Top, Cameron Lee Phan, photgraphed by Sayaka Maruyama. As feautered in Personas 111, published by konomad. Bottom, Image from the chapter ’Gender-blending Transformations’ in Personas 111

Kono worked as a stylist before moving into a wig making, a practice he found ripe with creative potential. Honing the skills he developed working with hair for 20 years, he learned the ins and outs of wig making – from the various techniques for knotting hair into lace foundations, to the methods for dying, sculpting and styling the strands.

He has displayed the wigs in interactive exhibitions, where visitors could try on an array of styles and, in the process, an array of personalities. Now, with Personas 111, Kono has brought the put the art of identity shifting into our hands. 

Of course markers of identity run much deeper than personal style, but while we navigate the boundaries of ‘who we are’ it’s good to see how, in some ways, those distinctions can so easily change. So who will you be today? §

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