Issey Miyake Seaweed Dress, New York, 1994.
With all the recent talk of wearable tech, Issey Miyake comes to mind as not only a forerunner but also a pioneer of the movement. Miyake was creating avant-garde pieces rooted in functionality since the 1970s, decades ahead of Internet culture. The designer reintegrated and innovated Japanese textiles, experimented with pleats and structure that defied fashion, only to redefine it. The complexity of Miyake’s pieces lay in the very simplicity of their conception. For a designer he had little regard for fashion saying that he didn’t believe in it. He simply believed in “a human being and a piece of cloth.” One fashion visionary who understood and furthermore interpreted Miyake’s creations was famed fashion photographer Irving Penn. “His designs are not fashionable, but women of style are enriched by them and are made more beautiful by them,” noted Penn in the introduction to Issey Miyake: Photographs By Irving Penn, published in 1988. The two met in 1983 during a shoot for American Vogue and began a working relationship that spanned from 1987 to 1999. Penn translated Miyake’s craft through his lens showing not only the world but Miyake’s himself, the functional designs as wearable art. Miyake experimented with androgyny in the 1980s far ahead of today’s androgynous wears that lean towards masculinity. The Japanese designers creations were genderless, shapeless and through Penn’s lens timelessly elegant. Each of Penn’s snaps of Miyake’s wears tells a story of past present and future fashion philosophy all at the same time.
*All Photos by Irving Penn, featuring Issey Miyake Designs.
(L) 1983. (R) 1984.
(R) Vogue, January 1992.
(L) 1993. (R) 1998.