Living: The Man Who's Changing Clothes

Designer Issey Miyake makes fashion for tomorrow

  • Share
  • Read Later

(7 of 7)

He bailed out of the Italian collection, retrenched and headed off for new territory. He began to bring his clothes into closer conformity with the body, changing the body's lines without constraining them, playing his frisky games with shape and size on a sharper silhouette. There are still occasional doubts. It has only been in the past few years that after a collection showing in Paris, "I haven't felt like calling Tokyo and saying, 'Is the company still there?' "

There, flourishing, and even expanding a little. Miyake is just about to pull off an exercise in the theoretical physics of fashion by moving ahead as he turns a little backward. He is launching a new line called Permanente, an excavation of his creative past that probably has no precedent in all of fashion. Most designers pack their old work off to some commercial attic; Miyake will turn his attic into a shop that trades evenly between past and present. Anyone who spots a vintage number on a Miyake fan and comes up with the familiar run-on question, "God-that's-beautiful-where-can-I- get-one?", can now be directed to Permanente.

Repose is not a part of this picture, of course, and relaxation is mostly a rumor. Holidays usually have some sort of affiliated work benefits--"Sand," says his colleague Komuro, "can turn into an accessory"--and he likes challenges in his recreation as well as his vocation. On a trip last year to the Kutch desert in the Indian state of Gujarat, his car broke down in the middle of a bridge spanning a salt sea. While friends fought off fantasies of sunstroke, dehydration and death in the wilderness, Miyake gazed at the weird water patterns below him, exclaiming, "This is really special." The travelers were eventually rescued and transported to a remote village, where they shared a room with a number of nimble rats. Recalls his friend, Museum Curator Kazuko Koike, "Issey snored through it all."

"I try sometimes to just go rest and not get ideas," he says stoutly, but, Ishioka insists, "he cannot stay in one place for more than three days." Figuratively, at least, that is just as well. In May he lived out a long-cherished goal and traveled the southwestern United States by car, and he is now dreaming of further voyages. To Buenos Aires in November; to Tahiti for the new year. "Make me a plan for my trip," he will ask friends who have covered the same territory. "I'll go anywhere," he adds, although there is no mistaking that. "Where there are roads. Where there aren't any roads."

His body, animated with anticipation, seems already under way. "Where there aren't any roads . . . That's even better." And just thinking of it, Issey is off. He moves a little, a short stride unbroken just at this moment, and takes a single, sure step in his accustomed direction. Forward.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. Next Page