Issey Miyake is still as firm in executing his experimental ideas as he was in the ’80s as a ringleader of Japanese fashion’s boundary-pushing influence. At 74, the Paris-based visionary won the fashion category at the London-based Design Museum’s 2012 Designs of the Year for his origami-like eco collection—based on math algorithms—wherein recycled plastic morphs from 2-D geometric shapes into structured tops, skirts and dresses. Would you expect anything less from the thinker who runs Reality Lab, his own fanciful R & D team? “I love to be free to explore, research and evolve,” he says. Now, as rumours circulate that he’s returned to his clothing label’s creative helm, Miyake is unveiling a new scent, Pleats Please, inspired by his fashion line of the same name.
It’s completely constructed, just like Miyake’s signature fabric technique, which dates back to the late ’80s. Creating costumes for the Frankfurt Ballet, he hatched a method of producing permanent creases, then launched his first Pleats Please collection for Spring 1994. Made from oversized pieces of polyester, the clothes are cut and sewn first, then placed between washi paper and put through a heat press. The resulting wearable art distills Miyake’s love of architectural shapes, genius technology and everyday practicality (ultra-light for travel; ironing never needed).
“The core spirit of Pleats Please is joy, and what better emotion to wear on your skin every day?” says Miyake. Asked to express happiness and movement, perfumer Aurélien Guichard created a “vertical” structure, akin to a pleat.
Classically, fragrances are built like a pyramid—with a fleeting burst of top notes, the defining heart notes and the long-lingering base notes. With Pleats Please, the wearer smells different facets at different times, a nod to fabric movement. But the effect stays consistent as the hours wear on: nashi (an apple-esque pear that alludes to Miyake’s East-meets-West essence), peony and sweet pea, anchored with patchouli, vanilla absolute and white musks.
It’s the designer’s latest effort to make accessible art. Next, he hopes to help establish a publicly funded national design museum in Japan, which he deems long overdue. “I have been thinking more about design and its importance to our lives of late,” says Miyake, who takes great faith in its power to give hope, surprise and delight.