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Tomi Kono’s Wig Out

Wig wizard Tomi Kono has been letting the public loose on his hairy creations. “I think it’s more exciting for people to actually wear the wigs, and get involved. I see them getting very excited and obsessed with their instant hairstyle change.” The second of his touring interactive exhibitions was held in Tokyo and photographer Sayaka Maruyama captured the visitors wigging out. 

Photography SAYAKA MARUYAMA
Hair TOMI KONO
Interview JOHN WILLIAM

Beauty Papers: What was the last beautiful thing you saw?
Tomi Kono: Cherry blossom in Japan early April. It was beautiful and special indeed.

BP: What was the idea or the inspiration behind these images?
TK: To see the transformations of Tokyo kids wearing my hand-made wigs. They are wearing their own clothes and make up so it’s more documentary. It was an experiment to see how wigs can change your personality… without cutting or colouring your own hair.

When I make a book or put together an exhibition, it comes from inside. What do I really want to do? For my last exhibition, where we created these images, my hair inspiration was musicians and pop stars from the 1980s. Back then they had such iconic hair styles and so I reinterpreted them with modern wigs and colours. 

The title of the wig exhibition in Tokyo was ‘Personas’. I believe hair styles have a big impact on our character. If you change your hairstyle, you suddenly feel like you’ve become a different person. So the starting point was my thought that a wig can be used as a mask on your head. To create multiple personas. 

This was the second interactive wig exhibition I have shown, the previous one was in Paris a year ago. Interactive wig means that visitors can come and try on the wigs. I exhibit them simply hanging them from the ceiling. I think it’s more exciting for people to actually wear the wigs, and get involved. I see them getting very excited and obsessed with their instant hairstyle change. The wigs I make are very fragile and can easily break, but my priority is for people to enjoy them.

BP: Where did you get your training?
TK: I’m basically self-taught. I started by reading vintage books about hair techniques. YouTube and Instagram are also great tools.

BP: I know you work with a lot of unconventional materials … grabbing what is at had to make something extraordinary – where does this creativity come from? When did it start?
TK: Maybe it’s because I grew up surrounded by nature in the countryside of Japan, and my parents wouldn’t buy me many toys. So I had to be creative, always playing in and being inspired by nature.

BP: Current kit hero product?
TK: Elnett as always.

BP: Do you have a favourite hair gadget?
TK: Recently I’ve become obsessed with using a Razor to cut hair.

BP: What does the word glamour mean to you?
TK: Obsession of beauty.

BP: What is your first memory of glamour?
TK: I bleached my hair with Coca Cola.

BP: Living, dead, real or imaginary … who has the best hair-do? 
TK: David Bowie.


Photography Sayaka Maruyama
Hair & Wigs Tomi Kono
Models Miho, Aoi, Yuko Nagata, Shigemi and Rinko
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