Kaoru Kikuchi: Pearl of the Orient

Kaoru Kikuchi shares why, when it comes to beauty, “Simplicity is elegance and being natural is preferred.”

BEAUTY IN SIMPLICITY. Model/designer Kaoru Kikuchi sees beauty in imperfect pearls. Photo by Doc Marlon Pecjo.

Photography by Doc Marlon Pecjo

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – “I don’t like anything (to be) too perfect. There is beauty in imperfection.” 

This seems odd coming from Kaoru Kikuchi, a breathtaking beauty from Japan who, in the Philippines, with her luminescent alabaster skin, long jet-black hair, slender limbs, and soft eyes can be deemed “physically perfect.” But she shyly and timidly rejects this idea and prefers to be called a simple girl in love with pearls. 

Kaoru, who works also as an international model, abhors the idea of fake breasts, nose jobs, and injecting Botox—common practices in the fashion industry where she’s immersed—that is why she is drawn to the delicateness and genuineness of pearls. She channels this love for pearls in her pearl jewelry line, KOZO, which means “naughty child” in her native tongue.

“I like things natural and beautiful,” she explains. “Pearls are naturally occurring things. They are the result of unique conditions and no one can predict or control how they’ll turn out which adds beauty to them.” 

Unlike the nicely-rounded pearls found in jewelry stores (the perfectly-rounded ones are considered most valuable), Kaoru uses baroque pearls. They are imperfect, irregular in shape, and come in a variety of colors; they comprise her KOZO collection, Frost. 

Photography by Doc Marlon Pecjo

Like the designer, the collection is simple and elegant. Lengths of precious Akoya seawater pearls  (the most rare kind harvested deep in the sea of Ise) from Mie Prefecture, Japan, are painstakingly and lovingly hand-tied by her team of artisans in Japan. 

When one glances over her pieces, the jewelry is simple enough. But upon closer inspection of the different components of the design, one appreciates the exceptional thought and time put into it. There is something very organic and humble about the design. Bare and polished, it is not pretentious. These lustrous strands of pearls can be worn wrapped around, layered, and linked in infinite combinations as bracelets, necklaces, and even belts. 

“I was inspired to go into accessories and jewelry because I would often go into department stores in Hong Kong and Singapore and, in my head, would think, ‘That necklace would look better with that or they should remove this, etc…’ So instead of settling for expensive pieces that did not suit my tastes, I decided to create my own,” Kaoru explains. Four years later, she now pours her time into designing pieces not just for herself but for the other fashionable women who share the same KOZO lifestyle: women with a taste for the glamour.  Aside from pearls, the KOZO line now includes lingerie and one-piece bikinis.

After establishing a strong presence in Southeast Asia, Kaoru has her eyes set on expanding the KOZO line in Europe and Australia, while strengthening KOZO’s presence in Hong Kong and Japan. 

Draped in her pearls and ready to model them for this RAPPLER photoshoot, Kaoru concludes the interview with, “I believe in jewelry. I believe that it’s a good luck charm.” 

And looking at the success of Kaoru’s KOZO line, we don’t doubt it one bit. – Rappler.com 

Photography by Doc Marlon Pecjo


(Art direction and styling by Kai Magsanoc. Makeup by Cherry Pacheco. Hair by Marvin Eustaquio. Gown by Eric de los Santos. For more information on KOZO, visit www.kozo.com or their Facebook page: KOZO. RAPPLER welcomes work from fashion bloggers, stylists, aspiring models and designers, and enthusiasts. Email us your portfolio with subject heading TASTEMAKERS to desk@rappler.com.)

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