Sala Umberto, Rome, late 90’s. Angelo Seminara is rehearsing one of his first hairshows. Since the 20’s the theatre has been the temple of vaudeville in Rome; even Totò performed here. An object used as a simple prop grabs Angelo’s attention: a ceramic vase, with a gently rounded shape, recalling a classic handmade Murano glass. The vase is covered with an overlay of an extra-fine woven texture, in a natural color. Angelo grabs it. He can feel the soft, regular rhythm of the thin straw threads under his fingertips. It’s like touching those traditional rush-covered straw mats, originally used in Japan as seating for aristocrats, samurai and priests.
He closes his eyes. What if this superb, ancient, noble craft could be infused into hairdressing? On the flight back, the vase, safely wrapped, nestles in Angelo’s luggage. More than a keepsafe of the Roman trip, it’s a memory trigger for the future. Memento! used to say Latins, meaning a phrase or a monument intended as an exhortation to remember. The vase finds a prominent place in Angelo’s London studio, providing a constant warning not to forget the stunning beauty that patient, skillful, time-oblivious hands can create.
In the following years, while developing his research on the use of hair as a raw material for experimental handicraft, Angelo cannot stop wondering if he will ever be able to bring that level of tiny detail to hair.
Finally, after a nearly 20-year interlude, Angelo comes up with a new technique called Tatami; a technique that brings hairdressing one step forward, by achieving an unbelievable subtlety of texture, something nearly impossible to create manually.
But Tatami is even more: it’s Angelo’s latest independent fashion collection, where the rigorous order of woven hair is masterfully counterbalanced by texturized loose hair in big volumes. Like a modern day Frida Kahlo or a contemporary geisha, the woman pictured in the collection is free, self-confident and inventive. Her make up is daring, her clothes sophisticated and boldly combined. The transgressive side of the project is powerfully aroused by the tense atmosphere of the video clip, where a mysterious museum exhibits heads of hair instead of works of art – heads that are as precious as ancient vases and similarly in danger of theft.
Now that his persistent efforts have resulted in an astonishing outcome, Angelo is planning a visit to Rome to replace the stolen vase, full of gratitude for an object, that has allowed him to take a long and fruitful journey through the many possibilities of hairdressing
Photography: Andrew O’Toole
Hair by Angelo Seminara
Hair Assistants: Yoko Kurokawa, Chihiro Meifuku, Minako Yoshida, Hyung Wook Ko
Make-Up: Laura Dominique
Styling: Niccolo Torelli
Products: Davines – Using Your Hair Assistant