Designer Profile: MOTHE

Thursday, April 30, 2009

above: MOTHE Spring/Summer 2009
all images courtesy of the designer

Like a moth drawn to a flame, I was drawn to the sculptural, intellectual beauty of designer May Kosaka's label, aptly named MOTHE. Kosaka draws from a cross section of her studies in computer science and fashion to produce her new womenswear line, which, according to her website "embodies a return to a mutable and more natural state... a comforting darkness that speaks to women's instinctive senses." Prices for the line are moderate, ranging from $140 for a curve-colorblock silk blouse and $220 for a linen bolero jacket, to $305 for a silk dress with a peek-a-boo pop-color lining. Read this interview to learn more about this talented emerging designer.

Tell us about the concept behind your label. Do you have formal training in fashion design?

The concept for MOTHE came about from my senior year project at design school. I conceptualized my life-long love of the asymmetric, rough-hewn forms of Japanese pottery, paired with the idea of the mutability of biological forms in nature, and executed it with the logical thinking acquired from my years studying computer science. The concept: emotional sculptural flattering clothing, executed with intelligent design. After getting a bachelors degree in Computer Science, I decided I couldn't spend the rest of my life as a drone aging under the glare of a computer screen. So I took a chance, followed my heart, and plunged into design school. I studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

How do you design and construct your collection? What materials do you generally use? Color palettes? What inspires you?

I start with a fat folder of photocopies and pages torn from art or science books, stills from movies, poems I've read, anything that had inspired me for the six months before starting a collection. That informs my color palette & textures for the season. Then with a rough fabric called muslin, I create a gesture or silhouette on my mannequin, or folds/pleats/tucks of relief sculpture, figuring out where that should go on the body to make the most emotional impact, and everything else falls into place.

above: a dress from Spring/Summer 2009

Can you take us through the process of one of your latest collections?

My Spring/Summer 2009 collection was inspired by week-long backpacking trips that I take with my mother and sister through the White Mountain range of New England every summer. We pack enough food and clothing for a week, and hike from peak to peak along the ridge, camping out in open shelters or rough lodges. The air is so thin, and conditions are so harsh, that trees are no taller than a few feet, and the only flowers that can survive are tiny bellflowers hiding under moss-cover & low brush. It's severe, and beautiful.

Are there any designers working today that you admire?

Right now I really admire Rick Owens and threeASFOUR; they've been sticking it out for years, more than a decade, and have never followed the crowd. Their aesthetics have evolved, as they've found their voices, but their conviction never swayed and their vision has never changed.

above and below: looks from Fall/Winter 2009

Who are your ideal customers?

My customer, ideal and real, is creative, open-minded, but needs something she can actually wear and feel good in. I like to make beautiful pieces, but no one will see them if no one can wear them. I have to be able to wear everything in the collection; that's the advantage of being a woman designer.

We're excited to check out your clothing for ourselves. What boutiques currently carry MOTHE? Can we buy items online?

I'm currently selling at Turtle Boston and Marie Eiffel in the Hamptons. In June, MOTHE will available in my very own neighborhood at the Dressing Room, which is a fantastic little shop with a fun late-night bar in the Lower East Side of Manhattan; just blocks from my apartment!

Items are available online at, but I always suggest trying things on before purchasing, so going to a store is the best way to buy for now.

We see great things ahead for you. What do you envision as the future direction of the brand?

I'd like to grow the brand slowly, keeping the design strong and focused, and the quality top-notch; it's manufactured completely in New York City and most of the fabrics are from Japan. I don't know what the future holds, but you can be certain that MOTHE will still be a presence five years down the road.

For more information, check out

Related Links:

She Breathes discovers MOTHE
High Snobette showcases the Fall/Winter 2009 collection
Kingdom of Style blogged about MOTHE in 2007

Other Designer Profiles on Dream Sequins:




Carlotta said...

thank you so much for bday wishes!!!
very beautiful creations from Mothe!!

Fasshonaburu said...

Lovely pieces!

Couture Carrie said...

Fabulous post and interview - love the clothes, especially that first dress!


Fashion Personality said...

Thank you for following my blog. I'm glad to follow yours. Great post with lovely outfits.

Mariona said...

LOVE the collection, love the first pic , amazing !!! Kisses from BCN

A "cheery" disposition said...

love that jacket in the last pic

MizzJ said...

Nice interview! The most interesting answer was how she described how all her various areas of study influenced her design. As a software engineer, I feel her fear about aging under a computer screen!

trishdarling said...

I love the silhouette of theses clothes...

trishdarling said...

rather these clothes...sorry about the typo. :)

Dream Sequins said...

Thanks for sharing the MOTHE love, everyone :)

Carlotta: Did you enjoy your birthday? I can't wait to see the Fall stuff from MOTHE.

Fasshonaburu: I love that they are so well tailored.

Couture Carrie: Thanks for stopping by! I think the first piece consists of separates. Isn't that belt amazing??

Fashion Personality: Yay! I'm glad we're connected.

Mariona: I think the pieces would look amazing on you. You're super stylish!

A cheery disposition: Thanks so much for the comment. The jacket is really lovely. The back makes it so unique.

MizzJ: I agree with you. It's so interesting to learn about these designers' backgrounds. Oh snap, you're so smart, an engineer?

trishdarling: Thanks for the comment! I agree, the silhouettes are very unique and amazing!

Ashley said...

Ooo love it, especially that silver dress! Great pieces!


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