Backstage at Issey Miyake in Paris: How do you follow up a hit fashion show?


Written by Ananda Pellerin, CNNParis

Contributors Video: Muhammad Darwish, CNN

Last season, Satoshi Kondo’s first collection for Issey Miyake was a viral sensation. Replete with helicoptering dresses, skateboarders and floating models, it was hard not to see it as a joyful statement of his arrival as the label’s new designer, replacing Yoshiyuki Miyamae after an eight-year stint.

“I was really surprised by the positive feedback and positive response on social media,” said Satoshi Kondo during the dress rehearsal for his Autumn-Winter 2020/21 show, staged at the Lycée Carnot, a school in Paris. “That was something I didn’t expect at all. I was really thrilled because at the time the Issey Miyake brand didn’t have an Instagram account.”

A model during the Issey Miyake Spring-Summer 2020  show

A model during the Issey Miyake Spring-Summer 2020 show Credit: Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images

The question this February at Paris Fashion Week was, what would he do to follow that up?

“As a designer I feel like Issey Miyake has always been a brand that focuses on the joy of making, and I think I can bring, as I did last season, the joy that people feel when they really enjoy the clothes they wear,” he said.

Since establishing the Miyake Design Studio in Tokyo, Issey Miyake has revolutionized what is considered luxury wear — by pushing beyond Western silhouettes with the introducing of more drape, loose lines and pleating, and by showing that wearability and playfulness can be synonymous with innovation and glamour.

Mary-Kate Olsen wearing Issey Miyake to attend the 2013 CFDA Fashion Awards

Mary-Kate Olsen wearing Issey Miyake to attend the 2013 CFDA Fashion Awards Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Meryl Streep and Celine Dion in Issey Miyake

Meryl Streep and Celine Dion in Issey Miyake Credit: Getty Images

With a habit of promoting-up within the company — Kondo-san had been at the label for 13 years already — rather than introducing new leadership from outside, the house of Issey Miyake seems very much a tight-knit family — albeit a highly creative, industrious one – working towards a common goal. And though he stepped back from daily design duties in 1999, Issey-san and Kondo-san speak regularly.

“There are times when I talk to Mr. Miyake every day, and there are times when I talk to him once or twice a week, but we have always been exchanging ideas”

“It is just casual conversation, but I get advice not only on clothes and design but more generally from Mr Miyake. This restaurant is really good, you should go see this movie, things like that.”

Issey Miyake Autumn-Winter 2020

Issey Miyake Autumn-Winter 2020 Credit: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images

Issey Miyake finale at Paris Fashion Week, Autumn-Winter 2020/21

Issey Miyake finale at Paris Fashion Week, Autumn-Winter 2020/21 Credit: Frédérique Dumoulin

For his sophomore effort, Kondo-san reunited with choreographer Daniel Ezralow, his collaborator from last season, to create a stage show that was more subtle in execution, but still brimming with possibilities.

“It’s a message as simple as that, but that’s my attitude and my goal as a designer,” Kondo-san said. “Issey Miyake has always been a brand that’s looking ahead, looking forward. There is something for the future which is also the idea of giving hope.”

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