Unless this is your first visit to Tokyo Telephone, you will be familiar with most of KOU’s work, maybe not by name, but you will have seen his designs in some of Japanese fashion’s brightest stars. He is the man responsible for a huge amount of the most iconic graphics that have turned up in Hiro, Juvenile Hall Rollcall, Nada, Bodysong and even Comme des Garcons GANRYU’s collection. Add to that posters and flyers for nights that anyone remotely involved in Tokyo fashion will have seen and you actually have one of the most important individuals in the underground fashion scene – though try finding out any information on the guy himself and you are going to struggle. That was why it was so nice to meet him at his solo exhibition in Gallery Abydos on Cat street in Harajuku (where we saw Aruta Soup last week) and discover that for a guy for who nothing is off limits for in terms of imagery, that he was a pretty chilled and modest guy, to the point where you wonder if he knows just how good he is, and how instrumental he has been in defining the Tokyo underground fashion aesthetic of the moment.
KOU’s work covers a nice range of mediums, from bandannas, to colleges and traditional canvases, he clearly has fun with it and in particular I like it when his pieces resemble lookbook shots as above so you can see how closely he references street fashion in his work.
He has also started putting some of his artwork on t-shirts that you can see below, I did ask if he had any aspirations to enter the fashion world directly, but he struck me as a guy happy to be behind the scenes and doing what he enjoys – no bad thing either.
I will let you get a flavor of his work below, and see if you can match up the art works to the designers who have used them in their collections:
His work themed on planets for Comme Des Garcons is on the left – fantastic stuff.
These illustrations of deconstructed Disney characters which he produced for Nada are really quite creepy, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Dolan cartoon meme that is sweeping the internet in the West.
I hope you enjoyed our look into the world of KOU, and if you want to see more then he does have a blog here. I also hope you are enjoying our attempts to bring in a bit more art and culture into the mix here on Tokyo Telephone. After all, fashion would be very dull if it was all about fussing about consumption, and if you don’t see the culture the surrounds the fashion, you really are missing out on what makes Japanese fashion so exciting.