Who Is New York Fashion Week’s Surprise Star Tomo Koizumi?

Japanese designer Tomo Koizumi creates fever-dream ‘80s prom dresses—effervescent, psychedelic puff balls in colors that, he says, are inspired by the palette of the sunset magic hour. It may not be a statement on our country right now—it is, as a Financial Times writer pointed out, refreshingly agenda-less—but pure fun counts for a lot.


And while “fairy tale” might be the go-to description for dessert gowns like these, this must have been just such an experience for the Tokyo designer, whose first runway show was standing-room only and modeled by the likes of Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and Joan Smalls. But just who is the person behind the colorful confections that dominated our Instagram feed? Here’s what you need to know about New York Fashion Week’s buzziest new name. 


He was discovered on Instagram. LOVE magazine editor Katie Grand discovered Koizumi on Instagram about a month ago. She asked if he wanted to show at New York Fashion Week and assembled a superstar team of the aforementioned models, famed makeup artist Pat McGrath, and the Marc Jacobs store on Madison Avenue to make it happen in just three weeks time.


The show was announced with 24-hours notice. Last-minute affairs are sometimes the most glamorous, and assembling Koizumi’s show in just 24 hours certainly gave the event a shooting star feel. An article in WWD the day before the show was the only announcement. 


Who Is NYFW's Surprise Star Tomo Koizumi? 1

Who Is NYFW's Surprise Star Tomo Koizumi? 1

Image via Getty


His dresses are inspired by “abstract paintings.” The super-ruffled dresses are made with Japanese polyester organza, of which he has 400 colors to choose from, and are inspired by “abstract paintings, and the colors you see at magic hour when looking at the sky.”


Koizumi typically designs for Asian pop stars and celebrities. Though he’ll likely now have many big names knocking on his door, before his NYFW show, the designer had dressed Lady Gaga in 2016 and Japanese-British singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama.


Oh, the power of social media. As GARAGE reported, as of last Friday, Koizumi’s follower count was around 4,000. As of this Monday afternoon, it’s at 25,000. The designer reportedly has Grand’s DM saying “Literally the best thing I’ve seen in years” as his phone background.


Who Is NYFW's Surprise Star Tomo Koizumi? 2

Image via Getty


He started his career as a costume designer. Growing up in the Chiba prefecture of Japan, Koizumi began his career as an assistant costume designer.


His inspiration ranges from Leigh Bowery to Sailor Moon. In the show’s preview, Vogue reported that Koizumi’s inspirations included hanawa (large Japanese funeral wreaths with plastic flowers), Roberto Capucci, an Italian fashion designer also known for his sculpted party frocks, Sailor Moonand larger-than-life performance artist and club kid Leigh Bowery.


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