He might be tiny, but Ryoji is hard to miss. As the new Creative Director of Shu Uemura Art of Hair, the stylist enjoys and oversize presence. It might have something to do with his wild hair, his penchant for wearing chopsticks on his fingers a la Edward Scissorhands, or his ability to turn the most basic of cuts into a stage-worthy performance.
After watching Ryoji in action, as he showcased his chopping skills while a wind machine blew fiercely, we sat down to figure out just how he does it. Hint: You might want to hold onto those chopsticks.Your signature is using chopsticks when you style hair. What’s the deal with that?
I discovered it two years ago while on a shoot, by accident. You can stick a chopstick in and pull it right out—you can’t do that with any brush. You can backcomb with chopsticks for more texture. It makes things looser, softer…it’s just magic for me. People say it looks like Edward Scissorhands—it’s chopstick hands! Now it’s my signature.That’s not the only crazy device you’ve come up with – you also have a hands-free hair spray bottle that’s strapped to your wrist. How do you come up with these new styling gadgets?
I’m inspired by superheroes. I had this idea [with the hair spray] right before the show. I wouldn’t have another hand, so I thought of having spray come out like Spiderman.Do you have any beauty philosophy?
“Wabi-sabi.” It’s not to be perfect…imperfection. You make [hair] perfect, and then you break something. I enjoy doing hair, so even if I do natural hair, I want to do it the way I believe.Do you integrate a lot of eastern culture into your styling?
Yes, mixing cultures is very interesting to me. I call it “euro-Asian”—a mix between French and Japanese style.Did you always want to be a stylist?
No, I actually wanted to be a hip-hop dancer. In ’94, ’96, I danced for Soul Train
. That was my passion; I mixed break dancing, house dancing, and kung fu. I wasn’t copying people, so they liked me, and made me realize I could be creative.
REBECCA WILLA DAVIS
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