This was always going to be an emotional one. Since the tragic news of Issey Miyake’s passing last month, the fashion world has been in shock, and in tribute: drawing up heartfelt messages and projects that honour the late great Japanese artist and designer. Coming in around the halfway-mark of Paris Fashion Week, Issey Miyake SS23 brought the masses out to the Paris Event Centre in the city’s suburbs, for what would turn out to be a moving and powerful continuation of Miyake’s singular designs.
“We see design as a process driven by curiosity,” Miyake designer Satoshi Kondo noted. “Bringing joy, wonder, and hope to life, and of course with a touch of playfulness”. If that were the aim, then Issey Miyake’s SS23 show today in Paris achieved it entirely – prompting emotion, reflection and gratitude. Beginning with a memorial tribute to the late designer himself, the show centred around an experimental musical performance by Koki Nakano – blending electronic music with classic piano, both illuminated with a waning spotlight.
There was no ‘traditional’ runway – models emerged from one side of the cavernous space and walked multiple paths around and through it. Intersecting each other and forming repetitive pathways, it was perfectly controlled and organised chaos. At one point, a pair wearing the same, round pleated piece in different colours walked side-by-side, in sync.
As the music reached a crescendo and stilled, the lights went out – and the next section of the show began. Centred on dance, choreographed by I COULD NEVER BE A DANCER, one singular dancer soon became 10, moving wildly to the live mix of beats and piano. From here, models returned – first walking together in packs, before turning and running, leaping and skipping back to the wings in a joyful exit.
The clothes were, of course, a perfect fit: swathes of fleshy pinks made up tiered dresses, floating skirts and structural, spiky knits. We saw a new, exaggerated round shoulder feature on neon trenches, dresses and tailoring, and of course the classic Miyake pleats. With the pieces’ functional qualities emphasised by the models’ movement, this was Issey Miyake through and through: a display of elegance enhanced by movement and functionality, but never compromising on focused and stylish design.
However, the clothes were probably the least important aspect of the show. Although beautiful, that was a given – what was more striking was the emotional reaction they elicited. Especially when combined with the theatrics, other art forms, and in the still-fresh aftermath of Issey Miyake’s death. What unfolded today was a much-needed exercise in grounding for Paris Fashion Week – excellence in craft, a rounded perspective, and a spectacle that made attendees feel something.
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See also: MOVEMENT, ORIGINALITY & LEATHER ILLUSIONS: DEEP DIVE INTO BOTTEGA VENETA’S SS23