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Known for crafting looks which seamlessly merge bold ideas with commercial appeal, Angelo Seminara is one of the hair industry’s leading creatives. Over the last decade his work has increasingly crept into the spheres of art and fashion, through his frequent collaborations with renowned fashion curator Judith Clark. Over the years, the pair have worked together on exhibitions including The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined at the Barbican, Chloé: Attitudes at Palais de Tokyo, and Appearances Can Be Deceiving: The Dresses of Frida Kahlo at Mexico’s Frida Kahlo Museum.

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Marie-Claire Bozant, The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined, Barbican Art Gallery, London, October 2016 – February 2017
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Judith Clark Studio, Chloé Attitudes, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012) Selfridges, London (2013)
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Judith Clark Studio, Chloé Attitudes, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012) Selfridges, London (2013)

Seminara and Clark’s fruitful creative relationship perfectly encapsulates the synergy between fashion and hair, with Seminara using his skills to create bespoke headpieces tailored to each exhibition’s theme. The resulting pieces, viewed in the context of Clark’s exhibitions, almost become like miniature artworks in themselves.

The latest exhibition the team have paired up for, Homo Faber: Fashion Inside And Out, puts a spotlight on the talented craftsmen and women behind fashion’s leading houses. Displaying pieces by designers including Alexander McQueen, Louis Vuitton and Maison Margiela, the show’s focus is on the transformative power of raw materials. Seminara’s headpieces – elaborate styles created out of simple, organic materials such as straw and wood – mirror this concept perfectly.

Below, we take a close look at some of the pieces from the exhibition, and speak to Seminara about the process behind this type of work.

Homo Faber
Marco Kesseler (The Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship) Homo Faber: Fashion Inside And Out, Venice, 2018
Homo Faber
Marco Kesseler (The Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship) Homo Faber: Fashion Inside And Out, Venice, 2018

When designing hair for a fashion exhibition, it takes a certain skill to complement the clothing without upstaging it. Have you ever run into any conflict by creating hair that was too grand or too fabulous? To be absolutely honest, at the very beginning of my career I used to be in conflict all the time. However, I think that’s a natural process for a young, ambitious hairdresser, obsessive and passionate about investing all his time to create something amazing – while all his friends are at parties having fun!

As the years go by, you learn to identify the focus, what’s at the very heart of the exhibition where everyone’s efforts pump the blood to bring it to life. So, you learn to be totally in tune with the exhibition, in essence become a ‘vein’. You need to stay on track and not to go against it, otherwise you become isolated and that’s when things crash. You need to question and work closely with the curator all the time to ensure everything is working together. Sometimes you may get some criticism you’d rather not hear, but you must take it as constructive feedback because at the end of the day, you are all there with the same purpose – making the exhibition brilliantly successful.

Homo Faber
Marco Kesseler (The Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship) Homo Faber: Fashion Inside And Out, Venice, 2018
Homo Faber
Marco Kesseler (The Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship) Homo Faber: Fashion Inside And Out, Venice, 2018

When you are asked to do hair for an exhibition, what is your process to get started? I get contacted about six months to a year in advance, followed by several meetings to be briefed and have ongoing catch-ups. Discussing archive content and showing examples of tests and experiments takes time, so it can be quite a lengthy process. Then there’s so much research to be done, including assessing the venue, the lighting, accessibility and everything else that goes into it. From there, we initiate conversations and dialogues with people, working closely with one of my assistants, Anna Fernandez, a hairdresser who originally studied anthropology – she’s brilliant!

Are you given very exact briefs in terms of the hairstyles to create for each show? No, not at all. I sit down with the curator and she tells me about the project. Once we have gone through everything, I will design and draw looks I think will work with each outfit. Sometimes there are themes, such as in my recent exhibition, Homo Faber, where we chose a material to suit the theme, which in that case was wood. The materials chosen to complement the looks must of course be approved. Regarding the styles, we usually create outline silhouettes first, then create content for inside the silhouettes afterwards.

Photo by Angelo Seminara_1072PX
Angelo Seminara, Homo Faber: Fashion Inside And Out, Venice, 2018
“Wood is challenging to work with, such a hard substance, difficult to bend and shape. It took almost two months - including trials - to complete pieces.”
Angelo Seminara
Photo by Angelo Seminara1_1072PX
Angelo Seminara, Homo Faber: Fashion Inside And Out, Venice, 2018

What are some of the different materials you’ve used for wigs and headpieces? Which was the most exciting or challenging to use? I’ve used all sorts of materials and textiles, including fabric, feathers, rubber, metal, plastic, tin, wood, real and synthetic hair, elastics, nets, foam, fillers, hemp, plants, flowers, wood crystals, fake and real diamonds, bandages, flocking… the list is endless!
Hemp is exciting to work with. Although it’s very time consuming, it has the same characteristics as hair, making it a beautiful material to work with as you can shape and transform it to create roots, middle and ends. Hemp strands are sturdy and they can be coloured using fabric dyes. For example, for the Frida Kahlo exhibition, I coloured the hemp black as she had a dark base, whereas for the Washed Up exhibition, I left the hemp in its natural beige shade. Wood is challenging to work with, such a hard substance, difficult to bend and shape. It took almost two months – including trials – to complete pieces.

 

Photo by Angelo Seminara3_1072PX
Angelo Seminara, Homo Faber: Fashion Inside And Out, Venice, 2018

What is the longest you’ve spent working on one piece for an exhibition? 32 hours without eating or sleeping! No breaks, no distractions from anything or anyone, just cool music and sheer determination to get to the end result!

If you could choose whatever your heart desired, what would be your dream exhibition or show to do hair for? I would love to do an exhibition on the moon with real skeletons, designing hair using chicken livers, mint leaves, sage and rosemary. The chicken livers will be dried and coloured a bleached-out ivory shade in advance…

Credits

Images Marco Kesseler, Angelo Seminara
Interview Katharina Lina
Words Emma de Clercq

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