LOCKDOWN TALES: As human model heads have become sparse during lockdown, these hair creatives share their various approaches to making the most out of their mannequin heads
Words: Katharina Lina
While the viral pandemic has seen people practicing social distancing and working from home where possible, hairdressers and session stylists are amongst those for whom home office isn’t a feasible option. We’ve seen various ways in which some continued to keep business running at least partially, from selling haircut vouchers to be used after quarantine is over, to giving one-on-one fringe trimming tutorials over video call. But since the profession is largely based around physical contact, a vast majority of hair stylists have been suddenly forced to stay home with free time on their hands.
To keep their fingers busy and the muscle memory crisp, many hair creatives used the newfound time to dig out their training heads, whipping up cuts, styles, and wigs on perhaps the most easy-going clients they’ve ever had. Some set out to challenge themselves to create wigs from non-hair materials, others used the time to practice difficult techniques, but all of them let their creativity roam free and the incredibly diverse results show it.
“Recently, I’ve been experimenting more with wigs. I had numerous mannequin heads from Amazon sitting around and to keep myself from going corona-crazy I started painting them and thinking of new design ideas to bring a different and interesting element to the wig work.
I’m a hair addict. I love education, so the silver lining during this quarantine is the numerous social media outlets making hair education available, which I’ve been enjoying. This time has also allowed me to practice and perfect my skills with braiding, roller setting, and finger waving.
Even as a seasoned hairstylist I budget a chunk of my income to attend hair classes. This year, I attended Pablo Kuemen’s wig masterclass and Tippi Shorter’s textured hair course. I’m also subscribed to Hairdressing Live. I try to soak up as much knowledge as I can; I search out tutorials and demos from hairstylists who inspire me, such as Eugene Souleiman, Guido Palau, Anthony Mascolo, and Peter Gray. You always need to be open to learning.”
Photography + Wigs + Mannequin designs: Wade Lee
“To be honest, I do not have a specific preference when it comes to working on clients, models or mannequins heads. Each type of work allows me to be creative in its own way and helps me to add some diversity into my daily routine. On the other hand, mannequin heads allow me to improve my hairdresser skills, as I have the opportunity to come up with new projects such as this one.
I had this idea of creating hairstyles by using different types of materials which were either taken from my garden or recycled materials. I was inspired by past London Fashion Weeks that I have been a part of, the clay manipulation techniques of ceramic artists, and some of hairdresser Mustafa Yanaz’ unique hair designs.
As soon as the lockdown started I decided to focus my efforts on techniques that I didn’t get to practice much at work. Every morning during the lockdown, I worked on perfecting the finger waves technique until I was satisfied. I decided to add it to The Quarantine Collection, as I was truly happy about my progression and dedication to it.
In our job, we can always work on our weaknesses and learn new techniques, as there is always room for improvement. Covid-19 might have forced us to stay at home, but creativity can still run free and wild, out of these high walls and gates.”
Photography + Headpieces: Tomer Nagar
“In the normal world I would work 70-80% of the time with human hair and 20-30% with wigs and extensions. I like this balance!
Hair Together was inspired by what’s happening now and the thought that we’re all in this together while on this earth. Now is the time to be united. I’ve been seeing a lot of sad news about the COVID-19 pandemic, so I hope people can find a little joy from my unique hairstyles. I made these hairstyles from the scraps of my many fashion magazines that I’ve collected from the early 2000s to the 2020 issues (Vogue, Hapars Bazaar, etc…) I used all kinds of hair, different textures, hair colours, straight, curly, afro, dreads… any hairstyles I could find.
Usually for inspiration, I like to watch movies and music videos, rather than online tutorials. But for no particular reason, I thought to myself that I shouldn’t think about hair too much during this quarantine time. I leaned towards other things. I actually took online classes from MOMA art school and psychology school.”
Photography + Wigs + Visuals: Kiyonori Sudo
“In the ‘normal’ world I usually work with mannequin heads when I have to prepare wigs for shoots or experiment with some new things. I prefer using mannequin heads to prep wigs as setting hair is time consuming and sometimes on shoots you just don’t get enough time.
The inspiration for this particular series comes from my passion for Japanese manga TV series I used to watch during my childhood in Italy such as Mazinger, Galaxy express 999, and Urusei Yatsura. I wanted to use a different material than hair as my goal was to give more of a manga cartoony feeling. I remember I made a spiky mohawk out of foam for a friend in the late 90’s which was very manga so I decided to rediscover this material. Working on wigs, especially with a different material has been like meditation for me during this difficult time.
My inspiration comes from everything I see around me everyday, and my background. Film noirs, youth culture and music have always been a big inspiration to me. I grew up in Italy going to goth clubs in the late 80’s/early 90’s. I moved to London mid 90’s where I experimented with hair colours, hair extensions and different materials (plastic, wool, foam…) I follow hairstylists that have been very influential such as Christiaan Houtenbos. I was lucky enough to work with him on shoots where I learned invaluable skills.”
Photography + Wigs: Davide Barbieri
“I am not a fan of working on anything but a real person, I need a human to get some sort of spark and create a bespoke character. A mannequin gives me no vibrations, I only use head blocks when I need to prep a wig or headpieces for a project, so it’s not normal at all for me to shoot like this, but it worked.
I found this piece of wood where I go jogging. I carved it out with the aim of killing time, and had a wig holder eventually… with a bit of individuality.
I’ve been pretty busy, mostly researching and organising stuff, but I am not really someone who practices their hands as I am a strong believer that if you fuel your mind the execution gets done naturally. We think of the hair industry in a methodical way, but that is just the way we got trained or programmed. As we start to develop, we have to let go and progress; for me it’s now more about deconstructing methods that I have repeated over and over again.”
Photography: Jack Eames
Hair: Chris Gatt