Designer: Issey Miyake (Japanese, born 1938)
Design House: Miyake Design Studio (Japanese)
Date: ca. 1983
Medium: cotton, wool
Credit Line: Gift of Clay H. Barr, 1996
Accession Number: 1996.335.10a–c
Even as a pioneer of a distinctly Japanese aesthetic, Miyake has gained worldwide recognition for expert constructive innovations in cloth that recall the formalistic art of French couture. Consistently professing an admiration for the prolific draping techniques of early twentieth-century couturière Madeleine Vionnet, Miyake has marketed himself as one of the new generation of global couturiers. Evident as much in his contemporary work as in his early 1980s manifestations, Miyake's derivations reflect a love for Western fashion historicism. This ensemble is particularly reminiscent of Paul Poiret's harem and lampshade ensembles, which reflected both the elegance of French fashion and the regionally inspired folksiness of Léon Bakst's designs for the Ballets Russes. Poiret's harem pant became a symbol of the 1910s liberated fashionista, just as Miyake's interpretation signified a new modernism for the late twentieth-century client.
Issey Miyake petitioned a conflation of Eastern and Western aesthetic ideals early on in his career, incorporating the imagery of African and Middle Eastern textile decoration into his tailored ensembles. Emblematic of Miyake's cross-cultural confluence, this ensemble exhibits the raw color and craftsmanship of African mud cloth, yet champions the Turkish trousers, sash belt, and sleeveless bodice of Eastern European regional costume.