Jen Kao

Last Fall I was pleased to discover the distinctive designs of fashion newcomer, Jen Kao. Immediately I was struck by the intricately detailed pieces. Each is exquisite in its own right. The luxurious fabrics shift and mold to its model’s body just so. Her collections are fun, and equally functional.

Kao studied Studio Arts at NYU before receiving a post-graduate’s degree from Parsons. She worked with several reputable designers before making the leap to her own label. Kao’s passion derives from her family’s culture; a Japanese background bursting with tradition and folklore.

This inspiration is particularly evident in Kao’s Fall 2007 collection; one that I am quite partial to. Glimmering fabrics take a hold of characters akin to legend’s Momotarō and Kiyohime. Layers upon layers of uniquely combined fabrics illustrate the complexity and vision found in Japanese mythology. Kao has an incredible ability to re-create these ancient visions while simultaneously crafting an undeniable modern day appeal.

Kao’s designs are also reminiscent of a certain French character known as Pierrot. Pierrot is frequently referenced throughout pop culture, and here Kao is able to call on his whimsical nature in the movement of her garments. Many items in the collection give off a slight court jester vibe. As an article in WWD once noted, Kao additionally draws inspiration from, “An individual who emanates confidence while making swift moves.” Who else can move as freely and carelessly without apprehension but a clown?




Kao’s Spring 2008 collection was recently released and it is every bit as noteworthy as the first.


photos: Jen Kao


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