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Tomo Koizumi on how to sew ruffles for a human chain

Milan. A real, physical yet poetic statement walked down the catwalk during the finale of Japanese fashion designer Tomo Koizumi’s fashion show at Dolce&Gabbana’s headquarters. Supported by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, the creative from the Land of the Rising Sun made his frothy ruffled creations into a striped flag to literally connect the models’ bodies and souls, producing a five-person rainbow dress to form a human chain. “It was a decorative piece inside my pop-up in Osaka,” stated Tomo Koizumi. “It’s not just a rainbow, but a collection of all colours to represent all people. A message of inclusivity, of togetherness.”

A five-person rainbow dress walked the runway at Tomo Koizumi's show finale as part of his fall 2023 collection, made in collaboration with Dolce&Gabbana and unveiled during the latest Milan Fashion Week

A five-person rainbow dress walked the runway at Tomo Koizumi's show finale as part of his fall 2023 collection, made in collaboration with Dolce&Gabbana and unveiled during the latest Milan Fashion Week

So, you may ask: who is Tomo Koizumi, the couturier everyone is talking about? Undoubtedly an up-and-coming talent, impressive enough to be worth Dolce & Gabbana’s latest gesture of goodwill – the Italian duo offers a platform to a young designer every season during Milan’s womenswear shows. Looking out for more? Invited at this season’s Front Row event at Istituto Marangoni Milano and featured on the latest digital cover of Maze35, the master of gigantic fabric flowers met Edward Buchanan to discuss his organza-filled, couture-inspired work and the wildly imaginative looks he created for celebrities like Lady Gaga and Björk.

Look from Tomo Koizumi's Fall 2023 fashion show in Milan, supported by Dolce&Gabbana

Looks from Tomo Koizumi's Fall 2023 fashion show in Milan, supported by Dolce&Gabbana
Costumes or high-fashion? Ask next-generation couturier Tomo Koizumi, as he proved he can do both

“I assumed people thought it was costumes,” said designer Tomo Koizumi of his exuberantly playful creations. “ I didn’t feel my designs were high-fashion enough until my first show in New York in 2019” (when he earned an international reputation with his debut at the Marc Jacobs store). Since then, the designer has demonstrated incredible talent, becoming a star loved by many celebrities, including Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Japanese-American actress Kiko Mizuhara. He even made a small foray into the MET Gala for the Camp show.

Look from Tomo Koizumi's Fall 2023 fashion show in Milan, supported by Dolce&Gabbana

Look from Tomo Koizumi's Fall 2023 fashion show in Milan, supported by Dolce&Gabbana

 

What drove Dolce&Gabbana to support Tomo Koizumi?

Still wondering why Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce chose to turn their spotlight on Koizumi’s work? The answer is easy: they were fascinated by his vibrant colour choices, meticulous study of volumes, theatrical shapes, sartorial details, attention to body positivity and an unconventional idea of feminine seduction.

Looks from Tomo Koizumi's Fall 2023 fashion show in Milan, supported by Dolce&Gabbana

Looks from Tomo Koizumi's Fall 2023 fashion show in Milan, supported by Dolce&Gabbana

The designer presented his new collection (the first abroad after the pandemic) as a riot of sensuality combined with glitz and glamour at Dolce&Gabbana’s Milanese spaces during Milano Moda Donna.

 

 

Refusing the season-specific calendar to offer fashion at its own pace

The designer presented his collections without following the season-specific calendar, working at his own pace, inspired by the late Azzedine Alaïa. An unconventional choice, but it is Tomo Koizumi himself who wants to break the mould.

Look from Tomo Koizumi's Fall 2023 fashion show in Milan, supported by Dolce&Gabbana

Looks from Tomo Koizumi's Fall 2023 fashion show in Milan, supported by Dolce&Gabbana

 

Tomo Koizumi’s vision is not all about theatricality

 “I was shocked when I saw John Galliano’s creations for Christian Dior in a magazine for the first time when I was 14,” he said. From that day, he understood he could not do anything else but create beautiful clothes. This first love of his is reflected in his management of silhouettes but also in his models’ theatrical styling.

Looks from Tomo Koizumi's Fall 2023 fashion show in Milan, supported by Dolce&Gabbana

Look from Tomo Koizumi's Fall 2023 fashion show in Milan, supported by Dolce&Gabbana

He began as a costume designer for artists, where his goal was to capture the public’s attention using color and silhouette that immediately reach the eye of the beholder. His ideal woman is indeed a balanced mix of pretty, strong and independent. His inspiration for the clothes comes from the girls from the Sailor Moon manga he used to watch on TV.

 

Tomo Koizumi’s love letter to organza

Organza creations are a trademark for Tomo Koikumi; as he underlines, organza is iconic for his country. In Japan, organza is a ubiquitous fabric easily found in DIY stores precisely because it is easy to work by hand. Being available in many colours and inexpensive, the designer considers it the perfect material to create high-impact shapes.

Looks from Tomo Koizumi's Fall 2023 fashion show in Milan, supported by Dolce&Gabbana

Looks from Tomo Koizumi's Fall 2023 fashion show in Milan, supported by Dolce&Gabbana

Despite this, it is good to remember how complex this fabric actually is; full of nuances and pitfalls, it has always been considered the passion of self-taught French couture enthusiasts. The masterful patience in draping organza with pins to obtain pleated volumes, the fluid lines given by the ethereal lightness of silk and synthetics and gradient colours; for the designer, the fabric’s natural qualities are fuelled by a desire to create something unique.

 

The synergy of collaborations by Tomo Kozumi

Before diving into a collaboration, Tomo Koizumi escapes from the real world and searches for a creative synergy that is simple and free, two values that inspired the last two capsules he created with Sacai and Emilio Pucci. “I don’t like creating commercial garments that only aim at selling,” he told Edward Buchanan, underlining how engaging it has been to work with these two brands that he respects and whose production of each garment he also admires.

Look from Tomo Koizumi's Fall 2023 fashion show in Milan, supported by Dolce&Gabbana

Look from Tomo Koizumi's Fall 2023 fashion show in Milan, supported by Dolce&Gabbana

During the latest Milan Fashion Week, he was the most awaited special guest surrounded by high expectations, as it was hard to imagine Koizumi’s aesthetic next to the Dolce & Gabbana lexicon. While his aesthetic language remained unchanged, Koizumi’s work was emphasised by the iconic details of the Italian brand that supplied him with archive fabrics, including printed ones, to add a fresh touch.

 

A piece of advice from a young Japanese couturier 

When asked what advice he could give young people aiming for success, Tomo Koizumi confidently replied that the best way to reach the top is to do your best, doing what you love and what you are good at, without ever stopping to dream. It’s the same thing he would tell his younger self: “Have fun because good things do happen”, he said. And Koizumi suggests doing this by putting coldness aside to leave room for fun because fashion is indeed a passion, but most of all, it should be a way to bring joy into people’s eyes.

 

 

Agnese Pasquinelli
Fashion Business, Digital Communication & Media student, 2nd year, Milan

 

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