The Bite Magazine - Spring 2019 - Issue 24

bite designer profile rector Jo Murakoshi approached him to create clothing for the 1963 Toyo Rayon Calendar edition. After graduating from Tama Art University, Miyake pre- sented his first collection ‘Nuno to Ishi no Uta’ (Poems of Cloth and Stone). Two years later, he travelled to Paris and studied haute couture, working as an assistant at two fash- ion houses. Here he witnessed the May 1968 Paris riots which inspired him to create clothing for a wider range of people. Moving to New York in 1969 and working in American ready-to-wear, he was inspired by the future potential of Japan which was gaining momentum due to the impending Osaka Expo ‘70. Thus, he returned to Japan and participated in the 1970 Toray Knit Exhibition where he presented a group of clothing made up of parts that could be assembled and disassembled. In the same year, he established the Miyake Design Studio in which his creative process became based on the concept of ‘one piece of cloth’. His design signa- ture explored the fundamental relationship between the body, the cloth that covers it and the space and room that is created between these elements, eliminating the labels of ‘East’ or ‘West’. Miyake began his creative process by studying a single thread and creating his material. During the 1970s, he joined a number of collaborators in the development of a number of fabrics and ways in which to make things that incorporated traditional handcrafts wedded to the newest technology. As well as making innovative improvements to the cutting-edge and synthetic technologies of the time and incorporating them into his pieces, he visited historic production regions and excavated traditional techniques such as dyeing and weaving. Through his work, Miyake brought traditional methods back to life in response to the demands of the times. He continued to establish a working method of collaborating with manufacturers and artists, trying to adapt new prod- ucts to the needs of a contemporary lifestyle. These con- cepts including his ‘one piece of cloth’ were compiled in the book Issey Miyake: East Meets West published in 1978. It was the first monograph of a living fashion designer to be published in the world. One of his most awarding accomplishments is the cre- ation of the paper suit. “It doesn’t crease!” he told The Guardian in an interview in 2016. Even as he scrunched up a bit of the sleeve with his fingers, it just sprung back to perfectly smooth. A smart blue single-breasted jacket with matching trousers, no low crotch on the trousers, no asymmetry, and with the sleeves where you would expect them to be, Miyake continues to achieve creating clothes that are light, practical and washable. Also, in 2016, a major exhibition covering almost half a century of his work was presented in the Miyake Issey Exhibition: The Work of Miyake Issey at the National Art Centre in Tokyo. At the press conference, while speaking about his future plans, he opened up a suitcase and took out a big piece of handmade washi paper and a simple kimono-type jacket made crudely out of the paper. “I am very interested in the culture of paper,” he announced. The paper was hand-woven by a craftswoman in Shirai- shi, in Japan. “Indian paper is famous, Egyptian papyrus; Chinese pa- per... every country has used this natural material. But the problem is it’s going to run out because it’s very difficult work,” he told The Guardian. “The woman who made it and sent me the package is 96 now. There is nobody to inherit this precious technique. Depending on how you produce it, it could be useful for many things.” Following the 2011 earthquake in Japan, the number of paper-mak- ing workshops in Shiraishi destroyed dropped from 300 down to 1. The exhibition showcased early pieces such as Sashiko (AW71) made from hard-wearing quilted fabric used for Judo uniforms and farmers’ work clothes; Tanzen (SS76/77), a loosely cut kimono style coat with a tie belt; and Shohana-momen (SS76/77), a red shirt and cropped trouser set made from fabric traditionally used to line men’s kimonos. Amazedly, the ‘grid’ mannequins were made out of 365 pieces, laser cut from a single sheet of corrugated cardboard and acrylic plastic and ingeniously slotted together to form the shape of a human body. With many lines and brands, these include the main Is- sey Miyake collection which is subdivided into men and women and designed by Daj Fujiwara. Issey Miyake Fête, a colourful women’s line that draws on the techno- logical innovations of Pleats Please, which are polyester jersey garments for women that are first cut and sewn, and then pleated. A-POC (A Piece of Cloth), a custom collection for men and women where tubes of fabric are machine-processed and can be cut unto various shapes by the consumer. Me Issey Miyake is a line of exclusive one-sized shirts that stretch to fit the wearer and are sold in a plastic tube. His lines of bags, men and women watches, and fragrances comes under the names of Bao Bao Issey Miyake, Issey Miyake Watches and Perfumes. He also designed limit- ed-edition bottles of Evian water and 21 21 Design Sight, a museum-style research centre for design, constructed by Tadao Ando and opened in Roppongi, Tokyo in March 2007, headed by Issey Miyake and four other Japanese de- signers. Miyake’s latest collaboration is with fellow creative Jólan van der Wiel and his ‘Journey of a Raindrop’ which ex- plores the strange attraction of water. Van der Wiel’s work draws inspiration from nature like many other designers but what sets him apart from the others is the way he incorporates nature as a tool in his design process. His research not only focuses on representing the forms and shapes found in nature but also goes beyond to explore ways to recreate the phenomena in nature that give rise to these forms and shapes. A designer who is still going strong at the age of 81, we look forward to more innovative and concept ideas from the amazing Issey Miyake.