Less than a week ago, Tomo Koizumi was relatively unknown. On February 8 at 6 p.m., his collection was showcased inside Marc Jacobs’ Manhattan store. Overnight, the 30-year-old Japanese designer was touted as the standout star of New York Fashion Week. “It’s all a little crazy but the good kind of crazy,” says Koizumi. Well, who can blame him?
Growing up in the countryside near Tokyo–long before live streams of fashion shows became the normcore–Koizumi’s interaction with fashion happened solely through magazines. John Galliano’s Spring 2004 couture collection filled with Egyptian princess extravaganza at Dior, moved him. It was a turnaround for this self-taught talent. “I started designing vintage-inspired customized clothing when I was a teenager,” reveals Koizumi. “I didn’t major in fashion. When I was in university, I decided to start my own brand. Some Japanese singers wanted bespoke costumes and some shops in Tokyo stocked my clothes. All of this was about seven years ago when I was 22-23 years old.”
Cut to January 2019, when Koizumi got a call from celebrated stylist and editor, Katie Grand. She had noticed his striking, structural designs on Instagram and wanted to discuss a potential NYFW debut. In three weeks, Koizumi was in New York. “Everything started from Instagram,” he laughs. “It felt surreal. But, all I could think of was having the best show possible.” And he did have the best show, that too with the best possible team.Celebrity hair stylist Guido Palau fashioned a sleek hairdo topped off with asymmetrical bangs. Legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath was behind the barely-there look with faint traces of electric eye-shadow. Supermodels like Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski and Joan Smalls were enveloped in muted Polyester Organza, arranged in layers and layers of carnation-like ruffles.
The show was subversive and significant, bursting through the scene amidst a banal fashion week schedule. And colour played a key role. There were cherry reds, dreamy blues, sunny yellows, baby pinks. Purples, greens, peaches and whites made for a rhapsody of fun and femininity that transported onlookers to a world of pastel fantasy. Gwendoline Christie, or Brienne of Tarth from the Game of Thrones, gingerly stepped down the stairs, a sartorial embodiment of a rainbow, in a billowing garment made from 200m of fabric. When it comes to fashion, Koizumi is all about the drama. “I love big volume,” he says. “My designs are edgy and feminine. All I want to do is to make gowns and dresses my way.”
‘His way’ is what impressed Lady Gaga enough so as to flaunt one of his costumes even before he took New York by storm. Katie Grand took notice and Koizumi took over Marc Jacobs’ Madison Avenue store. His Instagram following reached 27k from a mere 2000 after images of his fantastical creations went viral on social media. “I am so grateful and happy,” says Koizumi. “Everyone has been so kind and supportive, they loved my collection and I got so many reviews!” So is he coming back next season? “I don’t know, we will see,” says Koizumi, with a mysterious smile. One can only hope that he does.