“I want to make something that is not commercial,” said Tomo Koizumi before his Spring 2020 show. The designer, who caught the eye of Katie Grand on Instagram six months ago and subsequently flew to New York one week later for his debut, felt no inhibitions about so boldly bucking the trends of the American fashion landscape. He has set up shop in Marc Jacobs’s atelier and uses Jacobs’s Madison Avenue store for his shows, and in this, he has become a spiritual successor to Jacobs’s fashion for fashion’s sake mantra of late. Koizumi’s clothes are more costume than ready-to-wear, intended to provoke and inspire. To make the point, he cast model Ariel Nicholson in a one-woman show in which she dressed and undressed in seven garments, twirling and gasping to the ambient tunes that echoed throughout the store.
As a display of fashion, it was breathtaking. Nicholson, the 18-year-old trans model and Raf Simons muse, projected well beyond a full painted face of glitter and a conehead ’do. As attendants dressed and undressed her in Koizumi’s ombré ensembles, she oohed and aahed, trying to keep the audience enthralled. No disrespect to her performance, but the structure and fabrications of the garments were enough.
All seven are made of hundreds of meters of ruffled Japanese polyester organza and utilize only one zipper. The construction is fascinating, with the ruffles backed by a cloth lining, suspended above each other like cascades of cake frosting. The silhouettes were pushed far beyond those of Koizumi’s debut, with jumpsuits, bodysuits, and ballooning sleeves layered under scarves of ruffles and bows. The designer said he chose the bow motif because he wanted the collection to represent his gift back to the people who made him. “I just want to bring joy,” he said simply. Mission achieved.