I love the two days in Paris Fashion Week when the Japanese design houses show. Who doesn't? It's so refreshing to see designers simply exploring their love of fabric. In a world full of creative directors, stylists, show notes and Snapchats, it feels like a designer that simply just wants to be a great dressmaker is somehow no longer deemed that innovative. Indeed, a dressmaker is how one of the Japanese greats, Yohji Yamamoto, describes himself – and he sees nothing wrong with that. In fact, he sees it as an honour.
The current creative director at Issey Miyake, Yoshiyuki Miyamae, did have a concept this season but it was mainly explored via technique. The collection’s title was Beyond. In the show notes, he was talking about galaxies - and going beyond the stars - but mostly about how he could go beyond the known realms of fabric. The two techniques we saw this season were ‘baked stretch’ and ‘3D steam stretch.’ This wasn’t the first time we had seen them, but this show offered us the opportunity to see what else they could do. ‘Baked stretch’ is a process by which cloth is printed with a special glue and expanded by heat to create free flowing pleats. This season, Miyamae used it to create prism effects, by printed the fabrics in multiple colours. The first third of the show was made up of fabrics using this technique. They were joyful. A printed vest tee looked like such a simple sporty proposition, and one that you could easily see millennials happily leading their lives in. The coats were also very strong - they were kept fairly simple in construction. Miyamae went a bit sculptural with the trousers and some of the dresses later on in the section – hence, they looked more like artistic enquiries rather than a piece of fashion. But hey, without these kinds of experimentation within Japanese design, we would have so little else of what we deem innovative within western fashion. It’s these ideas that get watered down and ingested elsewhere within the fashion system.
The red and black middle section of the collection wasn’t as inspiring. However, the final section – where the new capabilities within ‘3D steam stretch’ were showcased – was intriguing and exciting. One no longer cared about wearability. This is what it feels like when fashion is evolving beyond us – and literally stretching our imagination. One copper coloured coat magically undulated around the form – it could happily take on any coat this season.