I first met Tomihiro Kono in 2008 on Hackney Road, in a bus stop. He was with his partner in life and business Sayaka Maruyama, and they had both had a couple of drinks. I was a confused student trying to figure out the complexities of navigating London, but in broken English they asked me if they could take some pictures of me some day, and that’s where our friendship began. Five years later a lot has changed but we still remain firm friends; I now work at Miista, and Tomi and Sayaka have both moved back to Japan. Over the years I have watched them both flourish into incredible artists, and I have been lucky enough to model all of their collections for them. Having only been at Miista a week, I was initially nervous about randomly sending Laura abstract, nude pictures of myself from my shoots with Tomi. But I felt that a) they were a vital component to our inspirations for AW13, and b) she might not recognize me anyway. Tomi’s headpieces are more than just accessories – they are pieces of art that Sayaka then transforms into beautiful imagery. The two go hand in hand. Having lived in both regions, which area inspires you more, Japan or Europe, or another region altogether?
Europe inspires me most. I think it's because I find people are more energetic, emotional, artistic and creative. They are more open-minded and they like to share ideas with people. I like the direct approach. How do you find the fashion differs region to region, and how do you have to adapt your designs to make them appropriate?
I've been working in both the Japanese industry and European industry. I find fashion is very different in each region. I find Japan likes cute, romantic, lovely styles and London is more edgy, cool and sexy. What has inspired some of your designs?
Sergei Palajanov – an Armenian Film director. I've been inspired by his films and watched them so much, that was when I learnt about Eastern European fashion. I made some pieces using decorative silver chains and gold motifs. The costumes, colours, and decorations in his film were very inspiring and were something new to me at the time. How do you feel a well-designed accessory can enhance an outfit in comparison to a garment-based piece?
A well-designed accessory can make the overall shape more graphical so it adds more silhouette to the person who wears it. It can also make an outfit more symbolic in a way. Who inspires you?
Man Ray, Luigi Ghirri, Katsuji Fujita, Toru Takemitsu, Oscar Shremnmer. What is it like working with Sayaka Maruyama?
It's like cooking with my sister. Making something together is a natural process and works for us. Do you prefer working with recycled materials - I.e. vintage or antique, or modern materials
? I’m not really concerned about the word 'recycled', I'm more concerned about assemblage: putting things together with different materials and creating something totally new. What can we expect from you in AW13?
I'm thinking to move to New York! I'll be going there for the first time. Hopefully I'll be fully inspired. www.tomihirokono.com www.syk-jp.com