Paris fêtes East Asian design with Issey Miyake, Sean Suen, Yohji Yamamoto
On Thursday, Louis Vuitton’s show-performance was the main event on the third day of Paris Fashion Week Men, but creativity from the Far East made its mark too, as three well-known labels unveiled remarkable collections for the Fall/Winter 2022-23: Japanese designer Issey Miyake, with his practical, playful fashion, his compatriot Yohji Yamamoto, in a more sombre, romantic vein, and Chinese designer Sean Suen, with his introspective collection.
Simple, functional, elegant. Three words to describe the clothes of the Homme Plissé line by Issey Miyake, once more confirming the line’s sense of the practical, with garments well-suited to all body shapes and to the headlong pace of everyday urban life. The Homme Plissé line was launched in 2013 as a contemporary, metropolitan and sporty counterpart to the Japanese label's main collection. Homme Plissé, with its evergreen essentials, has been showing at Paris Fashion Week Men since June 2019, and has always been a hit for its ultra-comfortable clothes.
For next winter, Issey Miyake’s design studio drew its inspiration from the rounded, protective shapes of tents which, once folded up, take up minimal space. Using the famous pleated fabric that has been the subject of constant research for over 30 years, the label notably introduced new techniques to create looks adopting an arched architecture, giving the silhouettes a fluid, rounded feel.
The collection consists of monochrome essentials, almost all of them made in Issey Miyake’s signature pleated fabrics: classic jackets, ample overcoats and three-quarter jackets with a rounded, enveloping shape, oversize cardigans, t-shirts, turtleneck sweaters, shirts, shorts and more. The colour palette is vibrant, ranging from electric blue to orange, mustard, pea green and rust. Some of the garments, in a dark fabric brightened by large, colourful tie-dye swathes, seem to have the luminosity “of a lantern shining inside a tent.”
The scene changed completely with Chinese designer Sean Suen, who presented an introspective collection entirely in black and white, searching for inner balance after the disruption of the last two years. Suen’s long, slender silhouettes, featuring tunics, long skirts and ample overcoats that look like dresses, have a rather spiritual feel. Wearing strange corded hats, some of the models look like monks.
The eponymous designer, who launched his minimalistic, geometrically styled label in Beijing in 2012, and has been showing in Paris since 2016, continues to work on textures, playing with the weight and layering of fabrics, using worsted wool, mohair and crocheted knitwear. He also resorts to corduroy, silky velvet and leather. Fabric layers envelop the body comfortably, clinging to it as if a protective armour.
Oversize scarves are wrapped around the body, or tied at the waist like a loincloth, or add an extra dimension to a suit, worn on the side like a stole. A similar asymmetry is found in items with a Mao collar, like the shirts, jackets, coats and leather tops inspired by traditional Chinese Qipao garments, buttoned diagonally down the right shoulder.
Yohji Yamamoto too uses layering to give more structure to the silhouettes. There is an air of density and solidity associated with these layered garments with an almost retro feel, on which time seems to have sedimented. Like wandering nomads, with their well-worn shoes and cross-shoulder bags, the models nest into their clothes, wearing their long black coats over jackets, gilets and multi-collared shirts, while trousers are worn one pair over another.
With their sallow faces, unruly hair and Byron-style neck ties, the models look like characters from Tim Burton’s ‘Edward Scissorhands’ film. The collection’s romantic, 19th century feel is heightened by voluminous white shirts enhanced with plastrons, complementing a wardrobe that is almost exclusively black. A retro style that is also emphasised by some of the fabrics used for the gilets, jackets and suits: for example, velvet, sometimes encrusted with embroidery or featuring animalistic prints blended into the material, sometimes faded and wilted as though worn for too long.
Pleated, bulky trousers are slipped into high lace-up boots for a rocker style, worn with t-shirts, jackets and nylon macs, while weird printed patterns take over swathes of fabric in jackets, shirts and coats. To top it all off, dark movie-star glasses.
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