Photo/IllutrationHiroko Koshino (Photo by Shogo Koshida)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Eighty-year-old Hiroko Koshino goes through birth pangs every time she tries to design new garments.

She holds collections in spring and autumn and is always thinking of what real “richness” is and attempting to embody such artistry in her Japanese-style outfits.

A book featuring 257 representative works of Koshino has recently been published to mark the 60th anniversary of her creative career.

Each time she does a collection, Koshino always suffers from growing pains, trying to make “better pieces than ones in the previous collection.”

Repeating, “This is not better,” Koshino gives birth to new designs by looking back to her past creations, sensing the contemporary atmosphere and foreseeing the future.

“Difficulties make the joy of creation greater,” Koshino says.

She was born the eldest of three daughters in a family running a dressmaking shop in Kishiwada, Osaka Prefecture.

Koshino built “a strong competitive spirit” in dueling with her younger siblings.

The family was once featured in a Japan Broadcasting Corp.’s drama series.

Well-versed in Kabuki and Noh, Koshino pursues the fusion of Japan’s unique refinement with Western-style aesthetics.

She made her debut as a fashion designer after winning first prize in a design competition in 1957 while studying at Bunka Fashion College. Since her first participation in a collection in Tokyo in 1977, garments designed by Koshino have been presented in Rome and Paris as well.

When Japan's economic growth was on a rapid upward trajectory from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, Koshino expressed richness with vivid and bright hues.

“Elegant clothing was popular then, indicating people’s longing to be wealthier individuals,” Koshino says. “These days, someone just having a lot of money does not mean they are happy. A world is awaited where both men and women can live a rich life.”

Koshino has also run an art gallery in Tokyo’s posh Ginza district for five years. Not only her own paintings--she describes them as the backbone of her creative activity--but also works of ceramists and photographers are on display there.

“Japanese-style beauty can fertilize and enrich people’s lives and culture around the world,” she said. “My mission is to show the potential (of Japanese beauty).”