etsuna otsuka in her tokyo studio

Sometimes in life things just magically fall into place. Back in the spring some of that magic came my way when a trip to Tokyo fortunately coincided with one of Etsuna Otsuka’s workshops. The moment I saw the posting on her site I immediately reserved a spot. I received a very dear email as well to confirm that it wasn’t a mistake and, with some broken Japanese, confirmed I would indeed be able to attend and was coming from New York.

Her blend of vintage made fresh is very feminine and modern. Formerly loved but discarded lingerie is given a new lease on life in a very positive departure from today’s fast-fashion scene. There is a charm to her work that blends fairytale with classy sophistication. I can think of so many adjectives to describe both her art and her personality: charming, romantic, sweet, endearing, stylish — the list goes on. In short, I am a huge fan!

Inside The Atelier

Approaching the shop address you are greeted with a typical Tokyo building, giving no real indication of what you will discover inside. Once the door opens on the second floor however you are transported to a delicate world woven of fluffy pastel knits, vintage peignoir accents, fine lace, and exquisite embroidery.

inside the world of etsuna otsuka in tokyo

The space is long and narrow but comfortable. Along the left of the shop are clothing racks full of her amazing creations and a darling French Provincial vanity. Tucked into nooks through the space are vignettes blending her handmade accessories and a mix of ballet slippers, swans and Barbies in frilly dresses. The middle of the room has two low provincial tables with cushions for the workshop participants to all sit together — a perfect blend of East meets West seating. It has a feeling almost as if you are hanging out with your girlfriends after school for some gossip and giggles. The right side is separated with pastel curtains creating a false wall to hide her actual workspace from the shop area. Spaces are carved out here-and-there for taking photos, a long mirror for trying on looks, and various displays of her latest work.

The Workshop

The workshop consisted of making two tulle accessories but we were all having so much fun chatting, sewing and taking photos that most of us only finished the first one. When we arrived the tables were set with a small sewing kit, a cup of strawberry milk tea and a delicious madeline snack for each participant. While I am comfortable when it comes to sewing and crafting I have never had the chance to try embroidery. Bless all the lovely ladies trying to help me understand visually the steps for the stitch given our language barrier. You can see below my blue flower is rather wonky. I must have started over 20 times before I figured it out.

tulle embroidered candy accessory workshop

Who knew that we were in for another special treat as well — Model Akane Sasaki signed up for the workshop too! You may recognizer her from the likes of Zipper magazine and she pops up on Etsuna’s social media frequently. She was such a darling and was very kind about entertaining many requests for photos with her.

model akane sasaki participating in workshop at etsuna otsuka

It was just wonderful! I highly recommend the workshop and also encourage seeking out adventures like this when traveling abroad. Yes I had moments of awkwardness due to language but it was nothing to the joy I found being immersed in the experience of sewing with someone I admire so much.

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