Issey Miyake, when you get right down to it, is an R&D
firm—just one that happens to engineer clothes, not beauty products, cars, or mobile phones. Designer Yoshiyuki Miyamae, who has been with the company since 2001 and at the helm of the women's collection since 2011, is determined to continue on with his founder's tradition of innovation. Miyamae's technique, called steam-stretching, uses steam to shrink fabric into a desired shape (usually pleats). Miyake garments are always pleated after they've been formed, which is the opposite of how most designers do it. In the case of steam-stretching, each item is made out of the house's A-Poc material. A-Poc is unique because it is fused together in a machine instead of sewn together. The resulting pieces look like paper dolls: One must only cut on the perforated lines for them to be ready to wear.
While technique is essential to Miyamae's process, beauty is equally dear. This season, the designer surveyed the horizon for ideas. A cloud print that covered an A-line trench and a pair of jeans was culled from three hundred photos his Tokyo team took while on a hike. A spectrum of blues was represented: There was a swing coat in slate-colored perforated suede, a steam-stretched azure blazer, and navy trousers with one extra-large inverted pleat up the front of each leg. A sunset-horizon print was used on a double-pleated dress; when you opened it up like an accordion, the sunset turned into white, pillowy clouds. Shots of yellow on an oversize work shirt and a double-shawl-collar jacket were meant to be like rays of sunlight.
While the techniques were easy to marvel at, it was the clever formation of the pieces that made them worthwhile. A black-and-white dress with curved shoulders played an optical illusion, while many jackets were pleated only on the shoulders and at the sides of the torso to sculpt an hourglass shape. Who said R&D types are geeks? These clothes were gorgeous.