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Text Ingrid Melano


Housed within Palazzo Reina in Milan’s prestigious Quadrilatero della Moda, Issey Miyake celebrates the opening of the brand’s first Italian flagship store. A five hundred square meter surface divided into ground floor and piano nobile built between 1826 and 1831 by the Reina family. The Palazzo eventually passed to the Municipality of Milan in 1921 and in 2014 an investment company bought it and initiated a renovation process aimed at preserving its authenticity. The store’s interior design was curated by Tokujin Yoshioka.

The colors of the garments on display – orange, green and blue – symbolize the energy of nature and convey a translucent quality and a sense of projection into the future. The well-recognized pleating was introduced for the first time in 1989 and is further developed and updated with every passing season. By 1993, Pleats Please Issey Miyake was ready to be launched as a complete and stand-alone brand making its debut as part of that year’s Spring/Summer collection. This revolutionary concept has won respect and admiration throughout the world, thereby contributing to the growth of an iconic brand.

We talked with Issey Miyake’s menswear designer Yusuke Takahashi who explained that «The intent of the brand is to create dynamic pieces that transmit energy to the wearer whilst exploring a new approach to dressing in line with the three key concepts of the fashion house: Pleats: pleating as a technique offering comfort, elasticity and functionality. Product: the garment conceived as a product resulting from the encounter between engineering and design. Present: garments for everyday use that adapt to the diverse needs of contemporary lifestyle».

Issey Miyake Homme Plissé is a new concept of clothing for the contemporary man, made possible by the development of Issey Miyake’s original pleating technology. «The line is characterized not only by wrinkle-resistant and quick-drying fabrics but also by the use of uniform pleats that prevent garments from clinging to the skin. As a result the clothes are comfortable, easy to care for and lightweight».

Takahashi talked also about 132 5. Issey Miyake, a project by the Reality Lab team: «The process by which the clothing is made is ground-breaking and used a mathematical algorithm: first, a variety of three-dimensional shapes are conceived in collaboration with a computer scientist; then, these shapes are folded into two dimensional forms with pre-set cutting lines that determined their finished shape; and finally, they are heat-pressed to yield folded shirts, skirts and dresses».

We also met with Issey Miyake’s womenswear designer Yoshiyuki Miyamae. A lover of Italy, he was happy to talk to us about the brand’s first flagship store in the country. «The unique space expresses the contrast between history and future showing the many layers of time in the Palazzo’s walls, flooring and ancient ceiling offset against the white futuristic material chosen for the interiors. The essence of the design harmonized with technology and manual work mirrors the Issey Miyake philosophy».

Yoshiyuki Miyamae then showed us the Auroras designs made using the Steam Stretch technique: «Using heat reactive thread which shrinks when steam is applied to the garment, we have made it possible to create streamlined pleats from a square piece of cloth. The form of three-dimensional clothing is created from this simple structure. This season, we have further pursued lightness in Steam Stretch, layering colors that release an aurora-like shimmer».

The result are unique garments and not just by virtue of the design process. By focusing heavily on the human resource value and the latest technologies, the spirit of Issey Miyake was handed down to a new generation of designers that pursue new challenges by marring traditional Japanese techniques and the most advanced technologies available on the market.

Video directed and edited by Michele Foti