They descended like futuristic haloes from the ceiling of the light-soaked Le Centquatre warehouse in Paris: three transparent hoops bestowing colour-block dresses and sculptural hats onto the models who stood beneath each of them, sheathing them in a single swoop. It certainly made for prime Instagram fodder, especially when the girls – joined by more in similar outfits – started to do a little jig; their frocks flouncing along as they bopped merrily.
Such was just one of the many moments during Issey Miyake’s Spring/Summer 2020 show in the French capital last September that put a smile on the face of even the most seasoned fashion watcher. The Japanese label is known to surprise with its runway presentations and that this marked the debut of its latest creative director Satoshi Kondo was enough to elicit anticipation. Yet no one expected just how gleeful things would turn out.
There were nylon parachute- esque jumpsuits – demonstrated to full effect when the models came zooming in on electric skateboards; the excess fabric billowing out like sails. A series of monochromatic maxi tank dresses mushroomed like tent tops as the girls twirled, powered not by indecipherable algorithms a la Hussein Chalayan or Iris van Herpen, but by the sheer lightness of the fabric and cut. Throughout, models not so much walked but jived, pirouetted and moved in all manner of ease and ebullience (helps that they largely wore plimsolls or rubbery sandals) in garments that showed off Kondo’s masterful eye for colour and, more importantly, sensitivity towards how the next generation of consumers want to dress: fuss-free, yet also fun and with absolute freedom.
Kondo (no relation to Marie Kondo, that other bellwether of sparking joy) hasn’t turned the Issey Miyake DNA inside out – after all, he’s spent 13 years at the brand’s Pleats Please and Homme Plisse lines. The vivid celebration of movement however was all him. Be it in his diverse casting, innovative showsmanship or fluidity of design, the effect was quite simply uplifting. As he sums it up to Document Journal: “I hope that when people wear the clothes, they genuinely feel joy.”
This article first appeared in the March 2020 print issue of FEMALE.
Text & Coordination Keng Yang Shuen