Satoshi Kondo breathes new life into Issey Miyake
Issey Miyake's show on Friday had been eagerly awaited since the beginning of September, when the brand announced that it was changing designers. And Satoshi Kondo, Yoshiyuki Miyamae's successor as creative director of the label's womenswear line, did not disappoint, managing to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, while also making his own mark and breathing new life into the brand.
The designer placed particular emphasis on the versatility of his pieces, exploring how clothing can adapt to hectic modern lives, while also preserving its poetry. Kondo experimented with construction and overlapping materials, making the most of the innovative textiles developed by the Japanese brand over the past few year. This collection for Spring/Summer 2020 therefore focused much less on Issey Miyake's iconic pleats, and was instead built around a much more pragmatic vision of fashion, with most pieces being both monochrome and interchangeable.
Kondo's clothes were designed for movement. Just like the brand's show last winter, the collection was shown by dancers presenting choreography by Daniel Ezralow under the glass ceiling of Centquatre, a cultural space in Paris' 19th arrondissement. The runway presentation was conceived as a veritable show, made up of a series of mini-scenes, each dedicated to a different kind of clothing and punctuated by dancers, acrobats, a musical interlude and a grand finale.
The models wore flowing dresses and vestal tunics, as well as comfortable jumpsuits in flesh tones and mauve, all of which allowed them to dance and stretch with ease and grace. Others sported majestic straw hats, making their way across the stage in lightweight white trenches or pieces decorated with broad brushstrokes. Behind them came girls wearing outfits in macramé and fringe, who twirled their large half-moon bags like fans.
Next it was the turn of a group of models wrapped in maxi-windbreakers with colourful hoods, which they wore over pants made in the same ultra-light nylon. When completely unzipped, these waterproofs opened out like the wings of a bat, billowing like parachute silk in the wind as the models moved around the stage.
Another jumpsuit design was given a twist with a fine film of nylon which stretched from the models' feet to their elbows without restricting their movement. The designer underlined this fact by sending these pieces out on skater girls, who cut through the space like elegant sailing boats, their garments flapping in the wind like sails. The same sense of weightlessness could be seen in dresses that were held up by almost invisible straps and inflated like giant buoys around the models' waists.
For his finale, Kondo sent out multicoloured pleated dresses, once again constructed by layers of different lengths. These pieces were beamed down from a flying saucer and straight onto lingerie-clad models who, once dressed, began to skip around in their sturdy rubber clogs, forming a frenzied circle.
These figures were succeeded by dancers in double-layered spinning-top dresses, who were suspended from threads and whirled like dervishes. The show finished with all the models wearing colourful dresses and holding hands in a big circle, all dancing with the same joyful energy.
"I wanted to express joy through fashion. So I mixed different emotions – happiness, pleasure, a modern sensibility – combining different materials, Japanese tradition and innovative techniques," explained Kondo to FashionNetwork.com.
The designer has been honing his skills at Issey Miyake over a period of several years, having worked on a number of different projects at the studio established by the brand's eponymous founder, who handpicked him to lead the house in its next phase. "I wasn't trying to go back to the brand's roots. I just wanted to interpret and modernise the spirit of Issey Miyake in my own way," he concluded.
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