It was a quiet, windy Friday night in the midst of a lackluster New York Fashion Week schedule. When the fashion crowd showed up for the debut of an unknown Japanese costume designer, they weren’t sure what to expect. What unfolded, however, was one of those rare, magical fashion moments that takes the whole room’s breath away.
Dramatic gowns of rainbow confection cascaded down a sweeping staircase. An impressive cast of models, from actresses Gwendoline Christie and Rowan Blanchard to models Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, Joan Smalls, and Karen Elson hit the runway. A grand finale of colorful gowns led to even grander applause. All this for the work of Tokyo-based costume designer Tomo Koizumi, who was discovered on Instagram a mere month ago.
Koizumi’s New York Fashion Week debut was a parade of dreamy, cloud-like gowns in a spectrum of striking colors. But it was also a modern-day fashion fairytale. Stylist Katie Grand discovered the Japanese designer’s work while scrolling Instagram last month and immediately reached out to see if he wanted to do a show. The rest is history.
Editors and industry insiders squeezed into the lower level of Marc Jacobs’ Madison Avenue store, a space Jacobs had offered for the show. Pat McGrath did the makeup, Guido Palau the hair. The music was quiet, but the over-the-top tulle gowns did all the talking.
Koizumi is not a trained fashion designer. According to a WWD profile, he’s a self-taught costume designer from Tokyo, where he works with just one assistant. This week marks his second-ever visit to New York and his first time meeting Grand in person. Neither she nor Koizumi know what the designer’s future looks like in the fashion industry, but the stylist felt passionate about sharing his work at New York Fashion Week.
“We know what’s going to happen every season or what the process is. It’s quite nice to just do something spontaneous and last minute,” she told WWD, “We’re very conscious of images and television and films being digested at a rate. This does seem to sum up something that’s going on at the moment, but I can’t quite put my finger on what. You can spend six months on a campaign and swipe right on Instagram and you get six images in less than 30 seconds.”
Will we all be wearing Koizumi’s extravagant gowns next season? Probably not, but that wasn’t quite the point. At a time when the fashion week format seems stale and uninspired, a staircase filled with colorful, joy-sparking gowns from a young designer was a much-needed reminder that the runway can still be a magical place. Especially when you have Jacobs and Grand as your fashion fairy godparents.
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