Tropical Dandies, the theme of Yusuke Takahashi's latest collection for Issey Miyake, didn't immediately present itself as a particularly Japanese notion. Takahashi-san himself is quite taken with Palau, in the Pacific, so he, at least presumably, knows about the "exotic resorts" he claimed inspiration from. And his set was the kind of whitewashed boardwalk you see stretching out into azure seas in tourist brochures. But his collection's connection with the tropics was initially more conceptual than anything else. True, the jungle provided fibers—wild banana and pineapple—for fabrics, but those fabrics were cut into tweedy jackets. Attractive and light enough for summer in the city they may well have been, but they were far from any notion of tropical. Likewise the "tropical" prints that were dramatic graphics handmade by Kyoto artisans, rather than the more familiar flora and fauna devoured by fashion's current appetite for print.
But once you got past the semantics, the collection exploded, answering the call of what the show notes described as "rampant jungle and white sandy beach." A linen djellaba over a navy shawl-collar blazer and white shorts made for a cool holiday look. The signature Miyake pleating was dyed with four different blues to create a cobalt intensity that radiated. More men should know how flattering that pleating is.
It's a fact that something magical happens when Miyake menswear gets anywhere near the color blue, and, as this collection proved, when mysterious undersea creatures are brought into the mix, it just gets better. That is, of course, an entirely personal reaction, but Issey Miyake has always had that effect on his fans, and he has been blessed with protégés who have perpetuated his legacy to similar effect. Takahashi is one such, but he proved with today's collection that he is capable of insinuating his own idiosyncrasies. In the end, it was simply a case of different strokes for different dandies.