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Koshino, Junko

KOSHINO, Junko

Japanese designer

Born: Osaka, Japan, 1939. Education: Studied fashion design, Bunka Fashion College, Tokyo, to 1961. Family: Married Hiroyuki Suzuki; children: Yoriyuki. Career: Opened first boutique in Tokyo, 1966; opened Boutique Junko Koshino, Tokyo, 1970; showed first ready-to-wear collection, Paris, 1978; introduced couture collection, 1978; launched Mr. Junko menswear collection, 1980; introduced home furnishings line, 1988; opened boutiques in China, 1985 and 1987; opened Paris boutique, 1989; opened New York boutique, 1992; opened Singapore boutique, 1993; has also designed costumes for opera productions, uniforms for sports teams, and corporations; showed collection in Havana, Cuba, 1996; launched Opera Sauvage brand of office coordinates, 1997; launched Jeu de Junko line of wigs, 1998; held joint fashion shows with sisters, Michiko and Hiroko, late 1990s. Exhibitions: Three Sisters, Osaka, 1982; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1990; Junko Koshino Design Exhibition, National Museum of Chinese History, Beijing, 1992; Modes Gitanes, Carrousel du Louvre, Paris, 1994. Awards: Soen prize, Bunka College, Japan, 1960; Fashion Editors Club prize, Paris, 1978. Address: 6-5-36 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-Ku, Tokyo, Japan.

Publications

On KOSHINO:

Books

Tokyo Collection, Tokyo, 1986.

Modes Gitanes: Exposition de 50 Createurs, Paris, 1994.

Articles

Bernstein, Fred A., "Junko Koshino: Style that Translates," in Metropolitan Home, March 1990.

Berman, Phyllis, "Not for Everyone," in Forbes, 15 October 1990.

"'Art Futur' Designer Coming to Manila," in the Manila Bulletin, 12January 1994.

"Japan's Junko Koshino: Imagining the 21st Century," in Business World, 14 March 1994.

Furukawa, Tsukasa, "Casual Friday's Getting Tokyo's Business," in DNR, 22 January 1996.

White, Renee Minus, "Junko Koshino Offers Feminine Geometric Shapes," in the New York Amsterdam News, 6 April 2000.

Niwata, Manabu, "Designer Family Fueled by Competition," in Mainichi Shimbun, 16 October 2000.

***

Sleek color-blocked sports uniforms, distinctive forward-looking corporate and exposition uniforms, costumes of opera fantasy and grandiloquence, and future-aimed clothing characterize the work of Junko Koshino. While producing a fashion and lifestyle line for men and women, Koshino's notable strength derives from her strong play between the individual and the group. Ironicallyat least to a conventional view of fashion as self-expressionKoshino's best works are her uniforms, collective vestments, not the elective garments of individuals. Her sports samurai are elegant and reductive, almost a kind of refashioned nudity streamlined by fashion as a shell. In outfitting sports teams, she has excelled, noting the aerodynamics of sports and applying those principles to her technology-aware garments.

Koshino's sports uniforms realize Marinetti's visionary comparison toward "new beauty" in his 1909 Futurist Manifesto of the racing car and the Victory of Samothrace. But she has also sought the individual identity of futurism, a clothing inspired by the 20th-century dynamic of projecting oneself into an even more technologically intense outlook. Cocoons and spirals, concentric circles, ribbed construction, and materials from plastic to metal to cloth are typical of Koshino's exploring mind.

Graduating from the Bunka Fashion School in Tokyo in 1961, Koshino chose not to go abroad with Kenzo and Matsuda and other Japanese designers of her generation but to create design in Tokyo, where she opened her first boutique in 1966. Helmeted figures, sculptural forms, and biomorphic futurism suggest that Koshino is inspired in part by Cardin and the tradition of futurist design, though Koshino remains distinctive. Her uniforms for the 1990 Beijing Asian Games and Japanese 1992 Olympic volleyball team have a Flash Gordon futurism about them, but they are also serviceable, sport-specific outfits creating a flag and semaphore-like reading on the competitive field. Corporate uniforms for many clients include Asahi Brewing, Mitsubishi Chemical, and Seibu Department Stores. A paradox of humanity's future expectation is that often we dream of or, conversely, fearthe role of the collective in the future; Koshino gives garb to that vision: her work fosters an easy and elegant collective character, one of utopia

Individual pieces are likewise utopian in vision. "Taikyoku" is the guiding philosophy of the work, signifying contrast and balance or harmony. Mystically and philosophically, the circle is most important to Koshino, who sees the form as complete and eternal, both ancient and futuristic. This symbolic approach to form animates not only Koshino's view of apparel but the outreach of her work to lifestyle and environmental design. As a designer, she has convened an Art-Futur Committee of various artists, designers, and thinkers, but she has also gone back into history to provide costumes for Mozart's Magic Flute and has shown her work in the Museum of History in Beijing. Moreover, Koshino has played a major role, in the late 1980s and 1990s, in introducing fashion ideas to China.

Each of her foreign headquarters is designated a gallery, and Koshino insists upon the identity of these establishments as more than mere boutiques or retail establishments. Koshino challenges almost every preconception about fashion from the materials available for clothing to the way in which clothing serves the commonwealth and the individual. Philosophically (and she requires such thought), she is cognizant of the past but straining with futurist and utopian vision. She brings fashion into fuller and more fulfilled discourse with the other arts of design. It is the area of attainment that gives Koshino a distinctive and enduring place in the history of design.

Koshino continues to design functional garments featuring geometric, sometimes asymmetrical shapes, bright and contrasting hues, varied lengths, and fabrics that range from alpaca to materials incorporating gold powder. She emphasizes the natural and places a focus on the feminine, yet she is not adverse to trying something new, such as creating clothes from metals, as she did in her winter 2000 collection.

Although she is best known in Asia, her reputation has expanded worldwide. In 1996 Koshino showed her collection in Havana, Cuba, and in the same year, she launched a line called Junko Koshino Homme in Korea. The following year, 1997, she launched a line of office-appropriate coordinates under the Opera Sauvage brand, marketed in conjunction with two Japanese trading companies, Mitsukoshi and Daimaru. In 1998, she introduced a line of wigs called Jeu de Junko in Paris, where she had long participated in the Paris Collections. In Japan and throughout Asia, where Koshino's name attracts nearly universal recognition, her garments range from kimonos and yukatas to casualwear for the workplace. Her designer fragrance label is also strong throughout Asia.

Koshino has stressed functionality, an attribute that is nowhere more in evidence than in the many uniforms she has designed. Recent projects range from outfits worn by vegetable growers at a grocers' conventions to garments for sumo wrestlers and J-League soccer uniforms for the team Kawasaki Verdy. One of Kawasaki Verdy's leading team members has appeared in advertising for Koshino's Mr. Junko line of men's apparel.

Koshino holds periodic joint fashion shows in Japan with her two designing sisters, Michiko and Hiroko, especially in their home town of Kishiwada. Aside from her design work, Junko Koshino has kept busy lecturing, serving on various governmental and municipal committees in Japan, and appearing on television shows and in commercials.

Richard Martin;

updated by Karen Raugust

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