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MICHIKO KOSHINO; why the pioneering designer is a true Icon words Luca Mitchell

For over thirty years Japanese born Michiko Koshino’s innovative designs have been making waves in the fashion industry; from inflatable bombers to electric scooters, Koshino doesn’t just make fashion, she changes it. First arriving in London in the ’70s the designer braved the culture and all it had to offer in an impressive way, and, even though she didn't speak the language back then, she ventured into the western world like a real warrior. Michiko’s blend of the oriental with western trends shortly made her one of the names to know on the scene. From her die-hard fans on the streets of Osaka to the late Bowie, there really is an international love affair with this pioneering designer. So, here are a few reasons you should be in love with her too.

She might as well be a goddess of clubs:

In the 1980s Michiko Koshino welcomed the club culture of London as her muse, and as the nightspots boomed, so did she. The club kids of Britain stood in awe of her designs; designs of which automatically made those wearing it stand out at the capital's hottest venues. The Michiko Koshino store, located just off Oxford Street, practically functioned as a club within itself. With all that in mind, it’s no surprise the upbeat and club crazed aesthetic has been consistently reflected in Koshino’s shows as mischievousness models take the runway in her latest designs. From the flashlight filled runway of Autumn/Winter 1996 - which rocked alienesque styling and leopard print hair (yes, very Versace AW19) - to the grungey up do’s of A/W97, it’s always a kiki with Koshino. As designer Pam Hogg once said, “Her shows were crazy, you were dancing in your seats”.

Koshino has always had a club-crazy cult following from consistently wowing her audience with anything from inflatable looks to her now collector items ‘Motorking’ bombers - perfect for the partygoer looking to stand out. Since her return to London for Autumn/Winter 2017, after a short break from the scene, Michiko has played with Hawaiian settings and baseball aesthetics. Though, her latest collection for Autumn/Winter 2019 really knocked it out the park, taking us straight back to that club fantasia that was so definitive of Michiko Koshino three decades ago. The showroom came to life with metal railings, flashing lights and constant beats as Michiko Koshino made the Istituto Marangoni mimick nightlife in a similar fashion to the Michiko Koshino store.

Michiko consistently pushes boundaries:

For Michiko Koshino, innovation and pushing boundaries seem to come naturally. Her flair for design has allowed her to transcend the expected and provide fashion not only for Club Kids but the increasing demographic looking for cutting edge urban-streetwear. From her simple signature bombers of the ’80s and ’90s to more elaborate concept collections like A/W18’s workforce uniform - which threw gender out the window in a vibrant display of PVC filled grunge - Michiko knows how to keep us on our toes.

Michiko Koshino A/W19 shot by Marco Torri

The A/W19 experience referenced both Michiko’s club craze and military obsession that has equally been a staple of her style: rich khakis, camouflage fabrics and accessories worthy of an admiral dotted the room alongside an absence of models; a fresh and unique sight for London Fashion Week. Step back to her Spring/Summer 1992 collection and a familiar army of black, khaki and beige takes the runway in an almost fetishizing ensemble; models strut, flirt and charm their way down the runway creating palpitating energy in the room.

Look to any number of Michiko’s runways and you’ll find this stand out feature in the way that she presents, models being free to tease and play with the audience. One for the books has to be her neon Hawaii S/S19 exhibition, where models winked and gestured at the audience whilst sipping from coconuts. This playful nature that allows Michiko to take things one step further is systemic in all that she does; from her use of tech-stretch fabrics in the ’80s (perfect for keeping cool on the dancefloor) to having backflipping breakdancers on her Spring/Summer 1997 runway (yes, she did that before Louis Vuitton).

Queen of collaborations:

Before Hajime Sorayama created the Dior robot, Michiko Koshino had some pretty out-there inventions of her own. Most notably, the beloved Japanese designer has created ready-to-wear collections for Mitsubishi Rayon, provided clothing for ‘The art of Barbie’ line for the quintessential children's toy’s 40th anniversary, and even designed an environmentally friendly electric scooter for Honda. This was all before the 21st century had even happened! Better still, she also has some pretty iconic collaborations you should be aware of right now.

For 2019, Michiko and culture redefining restaurant chain Wagamama have teamed up to infuse high-fashion with the ultimate Japanese cuisine experience at Noodle Lab. The collaboration makes sense, Michiko Koshino’s brand is playful and promotes a kind of invigoration of the youthful aspect of life, and Wagamama is the epitome of millennial culture. Wagamama and Michiko both mix cultures, expanding the British experience by bringing a piece of Michiko’s home to the U.K. The uniform will consist of a t-shirt and apron in blacks and khaki’s, not only reminiscent of Michiko’s best-loved past designs but retaining a kind of street credibility that is so focal in all that Wagamama do.

Michiko Koshino, making waves or tsunami’s? The Japanese designer always seems to be one step ahead of the game, with her stamina for innovative design and passionate presentation of all that she does making for an irresistible treat to look forward to season after season. Some of the most beloved fashion icons have fallen to Michiko’s allure, and even after thirty years, her charming and quirky designs remain original and fresh. From her exuberant runway shows to her unexpected collaborations, there is never a dull moment - it’s always a kiki with Koshino.

See full Autumn/Winter 2019 collection below.

Photography: Marco Torri

Styling: Thomas Liam Davis

Art Direction: Riccardo

Set Design: Tony Hornecker at D+V Management

Hair and Makeup: Michael Harding at D+V Management

Casting: Oscar Miles


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