Thursday, July 12, 2012

Issey Miyake

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Design in Context 11 (1)

Assignment Essay

Due Date Mon June 10th, 00

OBJECTIVE From the exploration of this topic you should develop an enhanced appreciation of the thought, practices and processes of the designer.

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Experimentation, research, innovation and change- Issey Miyake’s designs are focused on these general signs of our time. His distinctive combination of aesthetic and technological skills has resulted in a major commercial success. He has enabled fashion to go beyond more questions of colours, trends and seasons, to become a phenomenon, something not just ready to wear, but ready to take off into a different world (Holborn 15, p.104). Issey Miyake has begun a new way of looking at clothing in which craft, aesthetics and everyday life come together. At the heart of his inventions we will see questions of life and movement, a man inspired by freedom and the coexistence of the fabric and the body.

Miyake was born in Hiroshima, Japan in 18. In 16 he began clothing design at the Tama Art University in Tokyo, designing and making clothes for Shisheido Company Ltd.’s spring campaign. Miyake graduated in Graphic Design at Tokyo’s Tama University in 164. He then continued his journey to France, where he underwent an apprenticeship in the haute couture workshops in Paris. Leading him to the opening of the Miyake Design Studio (MDS) in Tokyo in 170, followed by the establishment of Issey Miyake Inc. the following year. In the 80’s Miyake began to concentrate his research on materials and modes of production. This resulted in his dream becoming reality, to create clothes that anyone could wear.

Throughout Miyake’s collections and exhibitions, he challenges the boundaries of cultures, and society’s traditions. These can be seen through his designs as he reacts against these signs by creating a style of clothing which is neither Japanese nor Western. By doing this Miyake begins to eliminate boundaries, boundaries that separate fashion from the world of design, as well as those that lie between East and West. In today’s societies the very idea of East and West has disappeared, what Miyake has successfully created through his designs is the two polarities becoming one (Sato 1, p.116). Miyake views Western productions as too rigid and restricting- blue jeans (Levi’s) and white cotton t-shirts. Such a defining style made him want to create clothing which was freer, both physically and mentally. He did not want to copy anyone, he wanted to be himself.

Miyake believed there should be a clothing range aimed at a wider range of female audience. A style not restricted by age or profession, and inspired by current aesthetics. At the same time it would be functional and it would go beyond fads and trends of the moment. He did this by eradicating the recognition of the Western distinction between ‘luxury’ fabrics and ‘everyday’ ones, created by society. Miyake reacted against this sign, which had previously created a recognised distinction throughout society by his introduction of the ‘Pleats Please’ line in 188 (as seen in the ‘Pleats Please’ images on the previous page, [Sato 1, p.1]). This new line resulted in the establishment of using polyester jersey in basic shapes and adding new colours and tones each year. ‘Pleats Please’ represents Miyake’s most simple design. Light and washable the look was ideal for the modern age, which is now marketed throughout the world. Pleats move and change form with the wearer’s body movements, providing a constant visual surprise and an optical illusion (Holborn 15, p.8). This is evident in the image Dancers from the Frankfurt Ballet in Pleats, 11.(Sato 1, p.5) The development of such clothes was aided by the evolution and transformation of materials. The liberation of women also helped in developing the ‘Pleats Please’ collection. The period saw several profound changes and the number of women who wished to assert their own personality considerably increased. The ‘Pleats Please’ line is a comprehensive response to the evolution of the condition of women. In order to make this collection of clothing, Miyake had to detach himself completely from traditional notions of the production of clothes in terms of cutting and sewing. He had to begin thinking about how clothes were used, rather than how clothes were made. This enabled Miyake to create a garment which would be in harmony with life, which would be light and easily cared for.

Portrayed through his collections we can see Miyake challenging culture and tradition. His passion is to create clothes that are functional, rather than following trends and seasons. We see his reaction against this sign of social tendency, where he produces clothing which has no restraints. Miyake concentrates on the production of light weight and volume of manufactured objects. Miyake does not create a fashionable aesthetic, like many other ‘fashion designers’, rather he creates a style based on life (de la Haye & Mendes 1, p.).

In 178, EAST MEETS WEST was published, reflecting a clear manifesto of Miyake’s design priorities and values. The book celebrates the meeting of two cultures, where Miyake threw himself into creating totally new clothes which would assimilate the traditions and cultures of the whole world (Sato 1, p.). He works with clear contradictions from both cultures (East and West)- Western clothes are cut and shaped with the body as the starting point, Japanese clothes start with the fabric. Miyake then concentrates on the coexistence of the fabric and the body, primarily linked by movement.

When designing his clothes he prioritises ‘space’, space between the body and the clothes. Becoming extremely involved with identifying the space between the body and the garment, Miyake undertook much experimental work, which culminated in his ‘Pleats Please’ line. Space eventually came to govern Miyake’s work; he wanted to make clothes that moved when people moved.

Every product would have its own characteristics, demonstrated through his ‘Pleats Please’ collection and ‘A-POC’ ( A piece of cloth). A design concept which creates beauty and complexity out of absolute simplicity. This concept was internationally influential, seen as clothing made of a single piece of cloth enveloping the moving body. A-POC clothes consist of a long tube of jersey from which one could cut, without wasting any material, a large variety of different clothes. Such documentation of this process can be seen in the image A-POC (Clothes produced from a tube of knit), Spring/Summer collection 1, (Sato 1, p.1).

Functionality and comfort were essential characteristics of Miyake’s designs. Another priority when designing his clothes was to limit waste to a minimum during the production process, and to treat all leftover material so that it could be used again in a new product. Miyake achieved this through his A-POC collection. The values of minimizing waste in clothing fabrication and of reusing clothes are overtly addressed in his collections, reflecting the importance of addressing problems of the environment and Miyake’s wish to make things that make life more agreeable in today’s society and less burdensome in tomorrows (Sato 1, p.).

Miyake has aspired to create clothes that are transcultural, having a decisive impact on the cultural sphere. We are aware that Miyake is challenging a variety of different cultural trends. From clothing styles of Indians, Parisiennes, Japanese and Americans, he manipulates cultural traditional wear such as saris, power suits, kimono’s and Levi’s. He does this by creating clothes which are more comfortable, and lighter, creating a whole new world of possibilities, merging the East and the West. Miyake explores materials; natural, untreated, wood fibres, Indonesian batiks, Japanese oil paper, synthetics and permanently creased. From thorough research and exploration he then produces his own materials, once again pushing the boundaries of cultural trends. Creating a futuristic atmosphere where all things are new, and unexpected. It was his objective to create clothes which would fully become a part of every person’s life, irrespective of their cultural origin or age.

He continues by manipulating the process whereby Western clothes are cut and shaped with the body as a starting point, coinciding it with Japanese traditions of starting with the fabric.

Miyake creates new fabrics by mixing natural and synthetic fibres, inventing new possibilities for movement and surface textures, challenging traditional materials. This is seen through Plastic Body, Autumn/Winter collection 180 (Sato 1, p.41), where Miyake has made a bustier out of silicone. Miyake eradicates the distinction between materials for the rich and the poor, in contrast to French fashion, ‘Haute couture’, where there is a recognisable exclusive element in the fashion world. In this process of challenging traditional materials and techniques, Miyake introduces a whole new range of effects, textures and exceptional fabrics for everyone to experience.

Throughout Miyake’s collections, he has established a range of clothing which communicates freedom and progress. A bold statement, in which two different cultures merged together (East meets West), communicating the coexistence of the fabric with the body. The relationship between the wearer’s body and the subtle connection with the traditional kimono is another reference that can be seen in much of Miyake’s clothing. This is evident in the image Traditional Kimono, 185 (Sato 1, p.87). Unlike occidental dress, which tends to follow the body’s contours through the use of bias cutting, padding and an overall tight fit, the kimono disguises the body’s specific shape, and instead suggests the body’s movements in the way the voluminous sleeves sway and the long trailing hem sweeps as the wearer moves. Miyake’s clothes which have also been worn by dancers in performances, do not usually hug the body, but move with it in interesting ways. He demonstrated this through his involvement with the Frankfurt Ballet, where his lightweight pleats could spontaneously recover their original shape, allowing dancers to jump and fly.

Through his thorough involvement with the identification of space between the body and the garment we follow his exploration into movement and surface texture, seen through his ‘Pleats Please’ collection. This is evident in the image Mantis, Autumn/Winter 11 (Sato 1, p.14) where a model is dressed in Miyake’s pleats, standing beneath a tree, representative of space and movement. Miyake’s designs continue to communicate with us his views on the revision of our manufacturing and production processes, whilst still creating magical clothes with free, timeless forms (Sato 1, p.17). He has allowed fashion to catch up with industrial design, which has concentrated for many years on reducing the weight and volume of manufactured objects (Codrington 00, [online]).

His elimination of distinctive boundaries between luxury and everyday fabrics establishes his ambition to eradicate any of society’s distinctions and boundaries and to design clothing that anyone can where. He does this by mixing fabrics, creating new surface textures and superimposing images upon others, allowing him to maintain the roots of his culture through his work. As we see subtle shades of warriors, echoes of mythology and traces of the ancient mysteries of Japan (Holborn 15, p.44). Issey Miyake’s commitment is to the people who wear his distinctive clothes all over the world, creating clothes beyond the reach of time. Most importantly is his constant portrayal throughout all his works of his desire to stimulate imagination through clothing.

Issey Miyake is a remarkable designer, creating something different, a clear alternative to a fashion world that is increasingly re-inventing the old, and focused on following trends and fads. He has created a world with no boundaries, a world where nothing is predictable, everything seems magical and his imagination is at large. A Miyake design does not correspond to a particular fashion season, current look or social tendency.

He is a designer who understands and appreciates the strengths of Japan’s traditions, and is equally aware of how and when to translate that knowledge beyond Japans’ borders, allowing his “Eastern” component to be so well received in the West. A thorough understanding of textile-fibres is one of the most remarkable aspects of his work. His clothing designs are determined by the way the body moves, after studying his works’ one understands that his clothing designs cannot be accomplished without the wearer’s participation. Miyake’s design work has not limited itself to a limited scope of the world of fashion. It has had such a decisive impact on the cultural sphere that it has given a stimulus to all areas of design.

“The designers who will be remembered next century will be those who have created some kind of fundamental form…that’s the challenge, to go beyond oneself, to surpass oneself.” � Miyake.

(Sato 1, p.118)



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