"True Smiles" was the counsel on the backstage notice board, with a scattering of smiley faces to reinforce the message. Issey Miyake is the happiest house in fashion, at least as it presents itself on the catwalk; a spirit of unbridled optimism is continually refracted through collections that charm and intrigue. The impish Yoshiyuki Miyamae, the label's latest standard-bearer, seems so ideally suited to his post, it's as though he were made in a lab just for the job. Would that all trains of fashion succession ran so smoothly.
Today, Yoshiyuki-san was wearing a spectacular pair of jeans printed with an aerial map of Paris (they also come in London and Tokyo variants). They weren't shown on the runway, but they were part of a collection that was inspired by landscapes seen from the sky, or viewed rushing by through train windows. More specifically, it seemed to be the British countryside that shaped what we saw. Maybe that was just because the soundtrack, provided by the live-mixing genius of the Open Reel Ensemble (Google them!), started with "Scotland the Brave" and proceeded in a Celtic swirl. But the first outfits definitely featured glen plaid. The color-blocking that came later was equally evocative of the multicolored fields of the U.K.'s cultivated agricultural terrain. Collages of diagonal stripes looked like a deconstructed tartan.
But you hardly needed to be a topographer—or a Celtic specialist—to appreciate a collection that was more straightforward than usual. The signposted fabric innovation this time was "hollow fiber"—like macaroni, apparently, but woven into a cloth that was both warm and light for shapely jackets. They were paired with the voluminous skirtlike pants that were a key item. Those came slashed open to reveal checks or stripes, or matched to body-conscious roll-necks for a look that combined past and future in a winning illustration of the blend of tradition and technology that helps Issey Miyake stand alone.