This Japanese Singer’s Tomo Koizumi Gown Went Viral

On July 23th, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics officially began with an opening ceremony that was spectacular enough to distract (at least temporarily) from the games' myriad problems this year.

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This Japanese Singer’s Tomo Koizumi Gown Went Viral

With stunning performances involving thousands of dancers, lit-up drones, and nods to everything from the Japanese flag to video game culture — and, of course, with national treasure Naomi Osaka lighting the Olympic cauldron — it was a subdued spectacle that offered a glimmer of hope that this year’s games might mark a turning point for the beleaguered sporting body.

However, there was another, more unexpected, highlight for fashion enthusiasts. As a singer-songwriter, Misia entered the stadium to play the Japanese national anthem “Kimi Ga Yo,” attention instantly focused on her extravagant costume. Cut from dozens of layers of repurposed organza and with an ombré pattern — achieved by spray painting, no less — it sparked outrage on Twitter, with people comparing it to anything from snow cones to cotton candy to cherry blossoms.

This Japanese Singer's Tomo Koizumi Gown Went Viral
This Japanese Singer’s Tomo Koizumi Gown Went Viral

The garment was designed by Tomo Koizumi, who shot to prominence in the fashion industry in 2019 when stylist Katie Major noticed his work on Instagram and quickly organized a grand premiere for the designer at a New York Fashion Week presentation. (Staged in her friend Marc Jacobs’s Madison Avenue store as a favor, of course.) The illustrious guest list for Koizumi’s debut show was matched only by the star power of those who walked the runway, which included Gwendoline Christie, Bella Hadid, Joan Smalls, and Emily Ratajkowski; it also garnered rave reviews for his unique blend of frivolity, flamboyance, and couture-level craft.

Since then, Koizumi has grown in stature. His work was included in the 2019 edition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual costume show, Notes on Camp. His most recent collection, which debuted earlier this month on the haute couture calendar, was live-streamed an Edo-period castle in Kyoto. Nonetheless, few experiences are as sweet — in more ways than one, considering the dress’s frothy, candy-colored pleasures — as having your creation broadcast around the world to represent your home nation on the global stage. With Tomo Koizumi‘s well-documented love for Japanese culture, both past, and present, it’s a pleasure to watch him defining its future as well.