Junya Watanabe’s Head Prop Artist Reveals His Secrets

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Head Prop: Studies 2013-2016© Tomihiro Kono

Tomihiro Kono has self-published a new book extensively outlining his creative processes

Tomihiro Kono is the hairstylist and author behind a self-published new book titled Head Prop: Studies 2013-2016. Throughout Kono’s career, his work has developed from solely follicular-based pursuits and into the realm of sculptural headwear. “What is most exciting for me is to create amazing visual photography,” he explains. “I find a lot of possibility in headwear design to broaden creative photography. I’ve always been inspired by historical design from all over the world: from masks, to religious dress and ceremonial dress – Geisha, for example. Using these references tells a story in the photography.” Kono goes on to cite the visionary Serge Lutens as another great influence on his work: “I respect him as a perfectionist. I especially like what he was producing between 1970-1980, when he was creatively directing the experimental commercial work for Shiseido. I hope to be like him and make creative work, constantly.”

It’s unsurprising, with this kind of work ethic behind him, that Kono has gone on to collaborate with some of the most revered names in fashion: from Jil Sander to Junya Watanabe. 2017 – ten years after he embarked on his career – felt like the right moment to release a publication outlining his creative processes. “I simply wanted to record a personal documentation of all the trials and errors of my creations,” he says. “These days many people use Instagram to record their work – I think it’s good if you want to use as a diary. But the work is going to disappear in the constant updates of all kinds of random information. Making and publishing a book by myself is like having a personal space to put together my archives. I am totally in charge.”

Head Prop is so extensive in chronicling Kono’s designs and inspirations – including unseen works made between 2013 and 2016 – that it feels a little like falling down a secret rabbit hole directly into Kono’s brain. “By revealing how I’ve developed my creations, I think it’s interesting for people to see how I work differently from other hairstylists and to see not only the final output but also the process of how I get to that point. Nowadays, what seems to be important is how you get a good result quickly rather than how hard you’ve worked and telling the story behind that. I find the working process hidden behind this just as interesting as the final result.” Kono releases the book on Friday in New York – the city he now calls home – and also intends to launch it Paris, London and Tokyo later this year. He also notes “I have started working on making wigs from scratch and that will be my next personal project.” Well, we can’t wait to see.

Head Prop: Studies 2013-2016 is released April 7, 2017.