Pin It
Seiran Tsuno 3
Photography Sho Makishima

Meet the designer creating otherworldly dresses using only a 3D pen

As modelled by her beloved grandmother

Appearing like ghostly cages which seem to float above the body, Seiran Tsuno’s designs are delicately abstract, distorting and disrupting the human-form. Emphasising the shoulders, chest, and thighs, there is a subtlety to her pieces: they don’t scream and shout but instead sit quietly in their uniqueness.  

Until recently, Tsuno worked both as a designer and a psychiatric nurse, and though the health industry may seem worlds away from fashion, in fact, her profession informed much of her creative output. “My method of capturing people for the design of fashion is greatly inspired by the conversation with patients at the psychiatric hospital,” she explains. 

In fact, it was when she was studying nursing at college that she first became intrigued by fashion. “I had a lot of struggles and stress when I was a student of nursing which drove me to do Shironuri (a Japanese subculture based around painting the face white),” she says. “I'd get dressed in excessive clothing and go out. It was my first experience of fashion saving me in my life.”

Later enlisting at and graduating from one of Japan’s most eccentric fashion schools, Coconogacco – which literally translates into ‘school of individuality’ – the designer explains her time there made her deeply understand herself. “It was my precious time when I was able to meet very impressive professor and fellows. The process made me be conscious of my root and be aware of my own special sense created by my life,” she explains.

When it comes to creating the clothing itself, Tsuno has some unconventional methods. Working with only 3D pens, it takes her, and a team of five others, around a week to make a finished dress.

Creating a base is the first step, which Tsuno then draws on using the 3D pens. As it becomes airborne, the strands of melted plastic ink solidify, before Tsuno removes the base. The result is a piece that has the delicacy of fine jewellery, only in garment form. “It is very important for me to make all my works by human hands. I think having the real texture of people is when we can feel the most impact,” she says. 

Each finished item feels ephemeral, as if it might soon float away – which isn’t surprising given the concept behind her Wandering Spirits collection. The idea was to create a “dress to communicate with the unseen world”. Derived from the Japanese shamanistic aesthetics, a religion that is characterised by the belief in a shrouded world of gods, demons, and ancestral spirits, the resulting offering saw her nominated as a finalist in Vogue Italia's ITS competition in 2018. 

Another big inspiration for Tsuno is her grandmother. Seen modelling a blue and green dress on Instagram while sipping a cup of tea, the Japenese designer describes her as her muse. “She is the person I love most in the world,” she confirms.