Bold newcomer Seiran Tsuno didn’t let her rural upbringing in a remote mountaintop village (or a career in medicine) prevent her from pursuing her design dreams.
“To work in fashion you need the skin of a rhinoceros” it’s been said and certainly the industry, particularly given its current turmoil, is not for the faint of heart. Persistence is paramount so when a young Seiran Tsuno, growing up in a small, remote mountain village in the Nagano Prefecture encountered some early setbacks post-high school, she chose to instead enter nursing school, but never gave up her dream. “I’ve been making things since I was a child,” says Tsuno. “I knew I had to find a way to pursue a creative career.” Tsuno stood out from her classmates in their monochrome cotton medical scrubs, instead preferring to attend class in comparatively outlandish makeup and clothing. While artistically inclined, it wasn’t until university that Tsuno realized that fashion design, specifically, was the route for her.
I started decorating others because I was not satisfied only by decorating myself,” says Tsuno, who made the bold move of entering a private fashion school, Coconogacco, two years ago while she continued her day job as a nurse at a psychiatric hospital. Coconogacco, founded only ten years ago by Central Saint Martins alum Yoshikazu Yamagata in Tokyo, has been credited with shaking up the artistic education rubric in Japan. Tsuno’s debut collection, which she entered in last year’s ITS contest, was inspired by Japanese lore surrounding the capturing of spirits and the anthropological excavations in her hometown. The result: finely spun urethane garments that appear to float atop the wearer, visible only due to their vivid fluorescent colors (a nod to the Ukiyo-e art movement and Japanese posters from the seventies).
Tsuno molds the shapes by first draping a cotton muslin to a dress form. She then creates the intricate lines using a 3-D pen. Despite the benefit of technology, Tsuno is quick to point out that it is in fact “an extraordinarily long process.” And one that has paid off. Given the reception and increased demand following ITS, Tsuno was able to leave her post at the hospital last month, devoting herself full-time to design.
While Tsuno’s collection have varied inspirations, she does have one constant muse. Her wonderfully agreeable grandmother who features prominently on Tsuno’s Instagram account. “I had always wanted her to model for me because she has such a unique look,” recounts Tsuno. “However she didn’t say yes immediately, instead telling me that my dresses were “weird.”” Luckily she finally agreed, as Tsuno’s images of her were integral in her acceptance to the ITS. And just what does she think of her granddaughters newfound notoriety? “She says that wearing my works is her joy because she’s seen how far I’ve come since the beginning.”