Tomo Koizumi is constantly working through his feelings about fashion, art and the boundary between the two. An artist by training, he presented his spring collection as an installation at ESMOD, sponsored by the 2023 Fashion Prize of Tokyo. An accompanying video showed how he approaches fashion as art, mounting many square meters of hand-ruffled polyester organza like a canvas, painting each into abstraction with a mix of oil, acrylic and spray paint, and draping them into dresses, coats or skirts on mannequins. Though the designer is always inspired by Rothko, the sometimes-moody color combinations here were influenced by the plastic flowers used in the funeral parlor owned by his aunt, where his mother also works.
“My art has to be connected to my identity, my background, my memories—the trick is to have my own emotion in it, but I also want it to be not really obvious,” said Koizumi. “I just paint the object.”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, museums at home in Japan and elsewhere around the world have already collected his one-of-a-kind works. The nine-piece lineup shown this week in Paris will be sold through a gallery, as art, although its new owners can always wear the pieces if they wish.
“It’s a little bit of a different way to dress because it’s just painting,” the designer offered, explaining that, for now anyway, he still considers himself a fashion designer first and an artist second. “What I do is not fashion-fashion because I don’t do ready-to-wear, so I have a good distance from the industry,” he said. Returning to painting as a hobby, and splicing it with fashion, is currently pushing him in new directions, however: on December 9th, Koizumi’s first solo art exhibition will open at the Yukikomizutani Gallery in the Tennozu Terrada Art Complex in Tokyo.