In kindergarten, Tomo Koizumi would bring a backpack filled with origami paper to class, determined to become a teacher of the ancient art of Japanese paper folding. But he soon realised that it wasn’t so much the paper he loved as simply the act of collecting a full spectrum of colours.
Nearly three decades later, Koizumi, 32, still loves hoarding hues, but now uses polyester fabrics that come in 170 colours to build majestic, sartorial sculptures that look like bouquets of blooming hydrangeas for stage performers around the world. Lady Gaga, Japanese girl group Perfume and Hong Kong pop star Miriam Yeung are just a few who have flaunted his frothy creations on stage. “In Japan, there aren’t really occasions to wear big dresses, so I became a costume designer to make these pieces for singers,” he says.
Despite his loud, sometimes larger-than-life creations, Koizumi is humble and shy as we speak over Zoom. Sporting a plain grey T-shirt that recedes into the sofabed he’s reclining on, Koizumi is in his boyfriend’s London flat, taking an extended layover on his way back to Tokyo, where he’s based, after presenting his first collaboration with Emilio Pucci at Milan Fashion Week in September.
“As a costume designer, you often have to get fabric last minute, which is why I chose a very common Japanese polyester organza material that can be found everywhere in Tokyo early in my career and I’ve used it ever since,” he says. “I also liked to use deadstock, so there are many colours to choose from, but it is inconsistent in quantity, so I’d be forced to mix and match, which is why my dresses became very colourful.”
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