Angelo Seminara is one of the world’s leading hair stylists. He’s created catwalk looks for leading fashion houses like Chanel, Hermès, Stella McCartney, Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood. But he also brings his own special brand of imagination and glamour to the attractions industry, making wigs for a variety of museum and exhibition projects.
Four-time winner of the BHA British Hairdresser of the Year Award, Seminara has worked with fashion curator Judith Clark since 2010 to create “hair installations” for exhibitions, including Chloé. Attitudes at the Palais de Tokyo, the Diana Vreeland retrospective at the Museo Fortuny in Venice and Appearances Can Be Deceiving: The Dresses of Frida Kahlo, at the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico. He’s also worked on permanent attractions, like the Simone Handbag Museum in Seoul, South Korea, and Louis Vuitton’s La Galerie in Asnières, France.
Most recently, Seminara worked with Clark on The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined. The exhibition examines questions of taste and vulgarity in fashion and culture. It ran at London’s Barbican from October 2016 to February 2017 and the Winterpalais in Vienna from March through June. It’s expected to travel to Belgium next.
“I work very closely with the curators,” Seminara tells Attractions Management. “They explain exactly what they want to achieve, then we have meetings to come up with ideas. I always try to add in something that’s new, cool and fresh.”
For The Vulgar, Seminara and his team of assistants made around 30 different wigs over a course of just a few weeks – and they’re not just made from hair.
“For each design, we created distinctive and individual looks; not necessarily created with hair only, but incorporating different materials too,” he says. “I work with an armoury of materials, including real and artificial hair, mouldable mesh, foam, fabrics, textiles – quite a mix of materials.”
“The process sees me designing all the looks in my private studio, working together with my assistants and the curator on a daily basis. It can be very frustrating sometimes, especially as we’re working on mannequins and things don’t always work the way you want. It means you have to keep trying and trying, persevere until you get the desired result.”
Seminara highlights the Frida Kahlo and Diana Vreeland shows as being some of the most challenging and creatively rewarding he has worked on. And it’s an aspect of his career that he values greatly, saying there’s always “something cooking on the back burner” – though he won’t reveal any more details.
With such stunning creations working so well to complement these exhibitions, does Seminara think museums could make more effort to use specially commissioned artisan skills like these?
“Creating bespoke pieces makes the exhibits look better,” he says. “They help make exhibitions more accurate, feel more authentic. They bring things alive for visitors and help them visualise the subject.”