Minimalist fashion seems to be a topic that brings many readers to my site. Back in May, I posted my responses to minimalism in fashion
from a student interview. Minimalism was so prevalent in the 1990s. This was when I was very young and impressionable, and getting my first taste of fashion via magazines.
When I was 7 or 8, my mom gave me a subscription to W Magazine for Christmas. In these, I saw things there that I had never dreamed to seeing: topless women in advertising, socialites partying in Saint Tropez, art openings in New York, and Japanese fashion. (Just to name a few . . .)
“Rhythm Pleats” Dress by Issey Miyake, 1990. Image courtesy of the V&A Museum.
I consider Issey Miyake (b. 1938) one of the great minimalist designers of the 1990s. As a child, I remember wondering how his clothing looked so plain, and yet so sculptural. Born in Japan, Miyake studied graphic design in college. After graduating in 1964, he left for Paris to study at la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. Miyake returned to Japan in 1970 and started the Miyake Design Studio.
Dress by Issey Miyake, c. 1990. Gold and burgundy finely pleated cotton blend. Image courtesy of Metmuseum.org
Miyake was always interested in combining technology and functionality into his garments. His iconic contribution to fashion was his Pleats Please collection. Miyake had a unique way of manipulating fabrics – he focused on geometric cutting and different ways to pleat the fabric to create three dimensional shapes (Note the photos above). His color pallet is usually very reduced, which keeps the focus on the movement of the wearer. Many of his garments take on the shapes of rectangles and other geometric forms when laid flat. However, once placed on the body, the garments take on:
“independent forms which neither disguise nor reveal the body.” (Source: V&A)
L by Clyfford Still, 1946. Image courtesy of abstract-art.com
Now, when I look at Miyake’s work, I see more than a sculptural quality. I see a very strong correlation to the paintings of Clyfford Still (1904-1980). Still was American, and a major painter in Postwar New York. He was part of the Abstract Expressionist movement with Philip Guston, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko.
Abstract expressionism was a reaction to the tradition of representational painting. As a movement, abstract expressionism simplifies art down to its most minimal form – how do each of us relate to the energy and emotion of color?
Still paints jagged flashes of color give that seem like bits and piece of the canvas have been torn off. The shapes present in his work look a lot like Miyake’s pleating, don’t they?
Flying saucer outfit from the Pleats Please collection by Issey Miyake, S/S 1994. Image courtesy of APL/CORBIS.
1947-J by Clyfford Still, 1947. Oil on canvas. Image courtesy of abstract-art.com
Issey Miyake collection, 1998.
Untitled by Clyfford Still, 1962. Oil on canvas. Image courtesy of SFMOMA.org
Untitled by Clyfford Still. Oil on canvas. Image courtesy of michaelkasian.blogspot.com
1952-A by Clyfford Still, 1952. Oil on canvas. Image courtesy of SFMOMA.
Issey Miyake Fete draped coat wool, Royal Blue.