It started, as it so often should, in gay bars. It was there that clothing designer Tomo Koizumi first discovered a world that saw his status as an outsider as something of great value. “I was a shy and a little chubby boy in my childhood, but I started going to these gay clubs and admiring high fashion from the age of 14.” Koizumi credits gay culture and haute couture and his often intersecting interests as the points of contact that opened his eyes and titled his axis. His dream of being an origami teacher (“I still don’t know if there is an origami teacher,” he laughs) was put aside in favor of something that might fuel the desire to creative expression. Origami is all about accuracy; Koizumi was looking for anything that allowed for creative expression.
Thanks to her fashion-loving mother, Koizumi got his hands on fashion magazines from an early age in his hometown of Chiba, about an hour from Tokyo, and even encountered founding books like John Galliano for Dior, which helped her embark on a path that, years later, would see her make her New York Fashion Week debut with a roster of models including Emily Ratajkowski, Bella Hadid and Joan Smalls. (For the first few shows, this one was by no means underestimated.) Koizumi leaned over these books and magazines with the goal of not only gaining a better understanding of fashion, but seeing as much of it as he could. could. He even linked his experiences at the club to Galliano’s work. “I immediately understood the culture of the club – the drag queens in particular – strongly linked to the aesthetic of Mr. Galliano: the overdone dresses and makeup, the voluminous hair … it was all so connected and inspiring. for me.” From there he started designing dresses for queens and even go-go dancers.
But it wasn’t just fashion and nightlife. His influences span everything from magical anime to sailor moon (“I’m always inspired by those girls who are cute and strong at the same time”) to paintings by Mark Rothko and Georgia O’Keeffe (“I loved the way they used colors on canvas.”) Without any training formal, he started experimenting with making clothes for his friends, but only saw it as a hobby that brought him joy and could bring joy to others. one year before graduation. There is a tactility in Koizumi’s approach that comes up throughout our conversations. looks handsome he might ask but does he to feel beautiful?
Photography: Tim Walker
He started working as a stylist and assistant costume designer before becoming a costume designer. And it was while he was working as a costume designer in 2016 that he got the call from Haus of Gaga asking him for one of his looks: a white and gray ruffled dress from his “Ballet” collection for the winner. of the Oscar to wear during the Japanese leg. from her Jeanne promotional tour. Koizumi, who calls Gaga one of her biggest inspirations, was thrilled for all the obvious reasons, but also for the wider implication this had on her designs going forward. “I was so encouraged because she only wears unique and solid pieces, and as a result, I gained confidence in my uniqueness. “
As he continued to work to outfit Japanese singers, Koizumi struggled to get people to see his work on the large scale he envisioned. “Even though I tried to create high fashion pieces, like I do now, people in the fashion industry in Japan often put me in a box as a costume designer and never as a costume designer. fashion. “
Two years later, during a presentation to Sara Maino, the deputy director of Vogue Italy, Koizumi would have another defining moment in his career that would cement his status as a fashion designer – and one to watch too. Impressed with her work, Maino posted it on her Instagram, which led to new followers including designer Giles Deacon and actress Gwendoline Christie. The following reruns caught the attention of Katie Grand, the founder and then editor-in-chief of Love Magazine. “Katie DM told me, ‘This is the best thing I’ve seen in years.’ We discussed it and decided to have a fashion show 15 minutes later.
Grand pulled out the big guns to help support Koizumi with his New York Fashion Week debut: Marc Jacobs provided his famous 655 Madison Avenue store as a location, and the talents of Guido Palau, Pat McGrath, Tabitha Simmons, Anita Bitton Victoria Hunter and Jin Soon joined Grand to help bring the show to life. In a rather full moment, Christie closed the show in a dress made from 200 yards of Japanese polyester organza. “It was definitely a life-changing moment,” he says. “Until that first show, people often saw my design as just a costume and not a fad, even myself actually. This show changed everything.
Last month, two years after their first collaboration, Koizumi and Jacobs teamed up again when Koizumi produced a capsule collection for Jacobs’ namesake brand. He created a variety of Snapshot bag straps made from his iconic tulle and t-shirts that appropriately feature ruffles. “Marc is a great designer and an icon in the fashion industry,” says Koizumi. “He already has a lot of strong design signatures, which really makes it easier to work with him. He’s proud of this collaboration as well as the one he made with Pucci a year earlier, and says Nike is on his list of brands he would like to collaborate with next.
These days, Koizumi can be found visiting local factories and craft stores across Japan. Talking to the workers there is as important as touching the materials. He wants the stories, the lineage, the life lived, not just the perceived beauty or the possibility of what the material can become. “I am looking for more beauty, to discover and to do.”
welcome to “Use me” a chronicle of pop culture demon Evan Ross Katz taking a look at the week in celebrity clothing. From awards shows and movie premieres to grocery shopping, it’ll keep you up to date with what your favorite celebrities have been wearing to the biggest and most insignificant events lately.
Photos courtesy of Tomo Koizumi
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