Koji Tatsuno

Elizabeth Glendinning

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA248

Koji Tatsuno was born in Japan in 1964 and has worked in fashion since he visited London on an antiques dealing trip in 1982, where he gained recognition for shirts he had fashioned out of old kimonos. The self-taught Tatsuno has also provided costumes for operas, ballet, and film, notably Peter Greenway’s 1996 film, The Pillow Book.

From 1982 until 1986, Tatsuno designed for the brand Culture Shock in London, which he co-launched; his designs were a response to people’s admiration for the Japanese aesthetic. Backed by contemporary Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto, Tatsuno set up his own label for bespoke tailoring on Mount Street, London, where he practiced until 1991. Living in the Western world allowed Tatsuno the opportunity to establish a new perspective and gain an awareness of his Japanese roots, implementing this in his designs.

In 1990, Tatsuno gained recognition for his unconventional and complex creations when he launched his first line of clothing with a runway presentation in Paris. He continued this label for the following twelve years. Tatsuno referred to his studio as being like a “fashion laboratory” during the 1990s, as emerging creative talents such as Julien Macdonald and Alexander McQueen would hang out there. McQueen went to work for Tatsuno at the age of twenty, and would construct garments from antique textiles.

Tatsuno was selling at prominent fashion outlets throughout the 1990s, such as Browns, Liberty, and Joseph; the architecture of his designs echoed the craftsmanship of his tailoring and explored the relationship of the garment to the space surrounding the body. In 1997, Joyce Ma, founder of the Joyce Ma boutiques in Paris, displayed pieces by Tatsuno in a space she had opened for young talent in an exhibition called “Koji Tatsuno: An Elegy to the Body and Clothes.” From 2002 to 2005, Tatsuno was creative director at Madame Grès in Paris, where his passion for good craftsmanship and quality resonated with the elegant lines and timeless couture of the label’s history.

As a prominent and progressive designer, Tatsuno has counted many well-known personalities among his admirers, such as Kate Moss, Franca Sozzani, and Mick and Jade Jagger. In the early twenty-first century, Tatsuno continues to live and work in Paris.

Koji Tatsuno, Fall/Winter 1992. Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Kawamura Yuniya. The Japanese Revolution in Paris Fashion . Oxford : Berg, 2004.

Koji Tatsuno. Web site. www.kojitatsuno.com .

Find in Library Quinn Bradley. Techno Fashion . Oxford : Berg, 2002.

Tredre Roger. “Prototypes From the Perimeters: He Ran Away From Home; Had No Training; Makes Clothes for Madonna but Shuns the Limelight. Roger Tredre Meets Koji Tatsuno.” The Independent, 17 July 1993.

Vegeli Danaja. “Koji Tatsuno: The Fourth Japanese Designer Genius.” Projekt 27, December 2013. www.projekt27.com .