"When I was little, there was a room with a big lock on the door in my house — my mother's studio. The lock came off when I finished elementary school," says embroiderer Satoshi Sekimoto over coffee at a Parisian cafe in the 13th arrondissement. "I understand why she kept the room locked," he adds, "not only were there needles everywhere but some of the garments she worked on were very precious, including obi belts entirely weaved in gold threads."

The Hiroshima-born couturier and the winner of a 2015 Meilleur Ouvrier de France for haute couture embroidery, grew up under a mother who was a high-end kimono maker. As a youth, though, he was more interested in moving to America than fashion and aspired to be a New Yorker one day. While he never apprenticed under his mother, his parents suggested that he acquire vocational skills from the comfort of his home city before going abroad, which led him to attend a local fashion college after high school.

At Ishida Asaki Total Fashion College, Sekimoto learned various hands-on skills from designing and pattern making to tailoring. One of the summer courses, however, ended up persuading Sekimoto to move to Paris, instead of New York.