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Issey Or Isn’t He? As Miyake Reportedly Returns To His Label, Tim Blanks Reconsiders His Legacy


Among the hundreds of lots of clothing sold by the Parisian auction house Drouot last Monday were full-on pieces from the eighties and early nineties by designers like Gaultier, Mugler, and Montana, far enough away in time to have the glamour of distance but also still vivid enough to Those Who Were There that they induced a misty-eyed trawl through the closets of memory.

But conspicuously absent was anything from the Japanese designers who, en masse, formed the fiercest fashion cult of the eighties. Not really surprising—the taste of the consignees clearly tended toward French fashion of a particular ilk. And the Japanese were always fiercely un-precious about what they did, so maybe their designs were simply worn to death in the moment. I know mine were. But the omission makes it all the more welcome to see the archive of vintage Issey Miyake menswear unearthed by the buyers at London’s LN-CC. Their shots of the trove—much of which will be for sale on site—go up on tomorrow.

Dating back to1983 (Miyake launched menswear in 1978), the pieces evoke the era as succinctly as any one of Gaultier’s Soviet sheath dresses. And they remind you in a moment that Issey is ripe for revisiting, and not just because the Miyake collections for both men and women are so consistently stocked with desirable clothes or because the shows that present those clothes to the world in Paris are so consistently imaginative, inspiring, and downright charming. The man himself was always one of fashion’s poet-philosophers, a fashion avant-gardist who never lost sight of the humanist essence of his work, and a brilliant artist to boot. Any one of those assets shines brightly in the current cultural climate. And now that Issey has reputedly returned to his label at the age of 74, or at least is working more closely with his protégés, it’s an ideal time to reflect on the weight of his career—or, rather, the ineffable, enchanting lightness of it.

Photos: Courtesy of LN-CC

Dept. of Culture