'Have you ever wondered about the true shape of the universe?' Not really the standard opener for fashion show's press notes, but Issey Miyake has always marched to a beat all of its own both with its eponymous founder and now under his successor Dai Fujiwara. Its roots are in fabric experimentation and something approaching the idea of installation art in clothing guise.
This season, the collection was inspired by a somewhat pedestrian concept for Miyake: the passage from a flat piece of fabric to volume and from volume to motion. Forgive my layman's terminology, but I would assume this then means making clothes, putting them on, and walking around? Not quite so simple Chez Miyake. The thought process from the collection was culled from the work of Professor William Thurston, a mathematician who uses knots, drapes and curves as metaphors to explore the complexities of the universe. If that all sounds like an intellectual workout, frankly on paper it was - luckily the collection itself was far easier to understand.
Eschewing seasonal trends left and right, Fujiwara created a series of garments based on different elements of Thurston's principles: the significance of the 'Doughnut' shape in topology (if not in fashion) was explored with ring-shaded stoles and jackets with sliced-out backs, 'Curves' were traced across jackets in contrast piping. Some of these seemed slightly simple-minded: Thurston's idea of 'The Pocket Universe' simplified to a giant pocket-within-a-pocket (who could have guessed), 'Tubes' came as down-filled channels dropping out of jackets, and '8 Knot Knit' did exactly what the name suggests, in mohair or fluffy marabou. That said, at a time when so many seem to be scaling back and offering simple basics wrapped up in the theoretical camouflage of Minimalism and Modernism, it is refreshing to see a fashion label engaging so thoroughly with intellectual conceits. If his hypotheses have been watered-down to literalism in the translation, their originator Professor Thurston, beaming front-row and embraced by Fujiwara at the show's finale, doesn't seem to mind at all.