At the end of the Issey Miyake show today, there was a rare fashion moment as the audience stomped and cheered for designer Yoshiyuki Miyamae to take one more bow. It's been a while since Issey featured as a must-see on the crowded fashion calendar, but anyone who goes to these shows regularly knows they'll witness a special fusion of creativity, craftsmanship, intelligence, and plain old jaw drop. Well, maybe the special effects aren't always jaw-dropping, but they usually elicit a heartily spontaneous reaction, as happened today when a handful of models walked onto the catwalk with flat semicircular portfolios that they rapidly unfolded and converted into springy, concertina-pleated items of clothing. The helpful explanatory notes on each guest's seat described a process of "hand-pleating on the curve."
Today's theme, "rhythmatic forest," was Miyamae's excuse for a collection that focused on organic shapes and patterns to mesmerizing effect. Graphically abstracted leaf prints created an almost Art Deco sense of movement, which was in tune with developments elsewhere in fashion this season. In fact, the graphics and silhouettes were generally more…what's the best word for this?…familiar than they sometimes are: Tailored jackets and coats, slim pants tucked into boots, and oversize blanket wraps provided a context for the marriage of artisan and machine that creates purest Miyake. The technique du jour was steam-stretching, in which computers program steam heat to shrink jacquard fabrics into three-dimensional grooves. That mechanical process yielded gorgeously organic fabrics, patterned like tree rings, which Miyamae cut into poetic shapes that shivered sensuously as the models walked. The coup de grâce was a deep, rich color palette. Or maybe the coup de grâce was the live soundtrack from guitarist Ei Wada and vocalist Chiyako, whose musical accompaniment was as empathetic as the impression made by the clothes themselves.
A line from the show notes, presumably endorsed by Issey himself, best defined the overall uplift of the show: "Cloth harbours the power of life: wrap yourself in it and feel an instantaneous metamorphosis into pure joy at the wonder of living." Translation: For God's sake, if it feels good, do it.