Issey Miyake embodies the values of functional modernity, with a retro charm. It communicates a sense of translucency and projection into the future
The first flagship store Issey Miyake in Italy has been launched on the 15th of March in via Bagutta 12, in the middle of Quadrilatero della Moda. With a contrast between ancient and contemporary, the interiors project is curated by Tokujin Yoshioka. A five hundred square meter surface among ground floor and piano nobile. The address is Palazzo Reina’s one: the building was erected between 1826 and 1831 by the Reina family and eventually passed to the Municipality of Milan in 1921. In 2014 it has been acquired by Société des Centres Commerciaux which started and recently concluded the renovation works.
Issey Miyake has the prestige of having addressed pleats to the future. In a full collection of tops, Korean collared dresses, long skirts and wide trousers, pleats are much more than just a crumpled tissue: the art of pleating boasts a respected history, from the ancient Egyptians, through ancient Greece women’s clothes. Today, with an exquisitely retro charm, in orange, fuchsia, forest green and navy blue, it has a Seventies touch that fits well to Japanese brutalist architecture. As in a Wim Wenders’ movie, nostalgic images of a blurred Tokyo materialize. Constantly searching for new techniques in order to express the joy of living, Free Thinking is the philosophy on which Issey Miyake bases the production research, the mindset that takes into account the spirit of creation, curiosity and love as universal expressions. A continuous focus on the importance of imagination and at the same time of the development of new technologies.
The Miyake Design Studio was created in 1970. The year after the company was founded as an engineering and manufacturing branch of products intended for domestic sales, becoming afterwards an international fashion house. The brand takes regularly part to Paris Fashion Week since 1973. Pleats appears for the first time into the Issey Miyake collection in 1989, further developed with every passing season. In 1993, ready to be launched as a brand, it appears for the first time as Pleats Please in the Spring collection. The revolutionary pleats concept gains respect throughout the world. We can feel garments, their freshness, lightness, the fabrics’ swish. By focusing on human resources’ value and the latest technologies in the company, the Issey Miyake’s spirit has been handed down to a new generation of designers. Yusuke Takahashi, for menswear, tell us that “The brand’s aim is to create dynamic pieces that transmit energy to the wearer, whilst exploring a new wearability and following the three key concepts of the Maison. Pleats: pleats as a technique offering comfort, elasticity and functionality to the fabric. Product: the garment conceived as a product resulting from the encounter between engineering and design. Present: garments for everyday use that adapt to the diverse needs of contemporary lifestyle.” Garments shouldn’t be steamed and can go into washing machine. Homme Plissé is the new clothing concept for the contemporary man, born from the evolution of Issey Miyake’s original pleating technology. “The collection is characterized not only for wrinkle-resistant and quick-drying fabrics but also by the function of uniform pleats that prevent garments from sticking to the skin. As a result the clothes are comfortable,easytocareforandlightweight.”Garmentsturn into volumes, geometries get exponential.
The reconstruction of Japan after the war gave a strong stimulus to Japanese architecture, making contemporary buildings among the most impressive in terms of technology and formal conception. New structures in concrete and steel are contrast to the traditional architectural models. Just as Miyake clothes, Japanese architecture is functional and modern in a totally international style. Functional modernity is the value described by Yoshiyuki Miyamae, womenswear designer. Starting from the new store in via Bagutta: “The space expresses the contrast between history and future, showing through the many layers of time in the Palazzo’s walls, flooring and ancient ceilings offset against the white cube of the display. The designs’ essence, harmonized with technology and manual work, reveals Issey Miyake’s philosophy.” Japanese concreteness and practicality.
Aurora is a volumetric garment designed using the Steam Stretch technique: “We use the steam’s heat for manufacturing a wire with elastic properties, creating the simple pleat on a piece of fabric” explains Miyamae. “The three-dimensional forms are created starting from squared cuts of tissue. This season we have further pursued lightness and layering of different colors the reflections of which evoke aurora borealis.” The garment becomes a fantasy. The colored sandals, with wedge and flip-flops clamps recall the classical Japanese wooden sandals. Worn in the traditional manner, with socks, slightly smaller than the foot so that there is a protrusion of the heel, the Miyake pieces are completed by the robes with Kimono inspiration. Bao Bao is the series of bags with geometric and modular patterns bendable in infinite ways.
Lovers are celebrated through the Shunga prints, on primary tones such as yellow, red and blue, a big success among Issey Miyake’s customers. The prints recall that joie de vivre longtime gasped by the Maison that, in another context, the writer Maurice Blanchot describes as “the limit of of a new form of fluctuation between excess abandonment so that lovers are eternally separated, as if death was inside them, not separated or divided, but inaccessible, in the the inaccessible, in an endless relationship.” Shunga literally means painting of Spring, a euphemism of the sexual act. The golden age of Shunga art is set in the Edo Period, between the 1603 and 1867, it is about images that recall the joyful life of Kōtaishi, of the crown prince.
Text Ingrid Melano