Photography by David Doobinin
Hiroko Koshino doesn’t speak English, but slipping between her native Japanese is the word L’Officiel, which she pronounces with a perfect Parisian accent. “She never usually read magazines, but she did read L’Officiel", says the show's curator and our temporary translator, Kyoko Sato. Of course, she is referencing the magazine during the 1960s and 70s—and L’Officiel Paris—but it’s our mothership, so we’ll take it.
After World War II, Japan underwent a huge cultural and economic change. Just like in the U.S., the youth started rebelling through art, music, and fashion. Koshino and friends started the Miyuki Tribe, a group of young people who took to the streets wearing preppy outfits imitating Ivy League style. This essentially became what is considered the first street style crew, that is, people who congregated in public places, each more outlandishly dressed than the next, all for the sole purpose of showing off their outfit.
Hiroko in her 20s (1960s)
Born in Osaka, Koshino graduated from the Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo in 1961 and started her own haute couture label 1964. Influenced by the Gutai movement, a radical post-war group of artists in Japan, and the Bauhaus movement, she eventually became a Top 6 Designer and has shown two collections every year since 1977. Only one year later, in 1978, she would be the first Japanese designer to show at Rome's Alta Moda fashion week. I could go on, but I'll just let you read the astounding timeline of her career.
Alta Moda, 1978
Kishono’s designs and art are being shown from now to December 1 at the Lower East Side's Whitebox, at 329 Broome Street. HIROKO KOSHINO: A touch of Bauhaus explores her approach to both art and design as she is still influenced by Bauhaus through the movement’s central tenets of unity and simplicity; “I’m just one person doing both art and fashion, creating everything by myself,” she says. “This is my music playing now, It’s all a part of my creation.”
Her archival work, including her famous updated kimonos and elaborate dresses made of paper, are hung around the room to be observed alongside her art. How does the 81-year-old find the time to design biannual collections, paint over 19,000 works of art and act as President of her own label? “I only paint on weekends," she says.
See more images from the show below.
HIROKO KOSHINO: A touch of Bauhaus will be on at Whitebox until December 1, 2018.
HIROKO KOSHINO: COLOR SUITE AND SUMI INK PAINTINGS opens December 5–31, 2018.