EUPHORIC CREATIVITY WITH SATOSHI KONDO

It’s only been a couple of years since Issey Miyake had a change of creative direction in the womenswear division. That kind of responsibility often comes with great expectations, but not only did Satoshi Kondo meet them, he also raised the bar. Through movement, a signature aspect of Issey Miyake, the young designer, was able to respect the house’s codes and maintain the brand’s DNA. However, he elevated it with interactive performance art, such as dance and lived drawing, whether through his physical shows or presentations. His artistic vision and multi-purposed clothing items bring newness not only to the Japanese brand but to the industry as a collection after another Kondo has captured our curiosity. As all art form is subjective, his shows leave us with a topic to reflect on often about positivity and oneness.
“I believe that inspiration is something serendipitous, and in that sense, not something that can be forced.”
In a conversation with AUTHOR, the young designer shares his passion for the craft and the shifting mindset that must take place when presenting collections nowadays. We also talk about the industry’s future, inspiration, and innate talent for material sourcing.

What was the most enjoyable part of creating this collection?
My favourite part of creating a collection happens when my team and I are about to find a way to translate our abstract idea or concept into a clothing form. It is a transition from an idea to its realisation, including the brainstorming and the research that leads to this feeling that I enjoy the most. In that sense, I also enjoy taking a piece of fabric and working with its material qualities to make it into a garment.
For example, for the FLUIDITY LOOP series, I engaged in the process of looking at the fabric knit in a spiral shape and imagining how to turn it into a garment by making use of its character and texture. For the LINK RINGS series, I began with the notion of creating apparel by connecting circles and then continued with the design process of realising that idea into a series of circular, hand-pleated fabrics.

What is your take on fashion moving forward with digital aspects?
I feel that the prevalence of digital shows has made collections more accessible. Now a collection can reach its audience at a speed and a breadth that the industry has never experienced before. Because of this new form of communication, more people worldwide get to see a collection and get to see it quicker, including those who didn’t have the means or the interest to see a fashion show before.
For this collection, we worked with the video director, Yuichi Kodama, to explore the potential of a video in relation to the collection theme—visual components that can only be done digitally. With some deliberate editing and subtle special effects in the video, we were able to convey the sense of descending into the depths of the sea without actually doing a show in the water.

What are the challenges you face when sourcing continual inspiration for collections?
I believe that inspiration is something serendipitous, and in that sense, not something that can be forced. For me, finding inspiration is not about thinking about finding inspiration first. I often stay active at work and in life, thereby allowing myself to be in an environment full of creative work while always staying open to new ideas, whatever they may be. To that end, I always expose myself to things I find Interesting, like going to exhibitions at museums.

How important are physical shows for you vs creating a video to present the collection?
In terms of presentation format, physical vs digital, as a designer, I always try to adapt to the circumstances and make the most of what is available in a creative way. I think there is something about a collection that only a physical show can convey, and the same can be said about a digital show.
I would like to do a physical show for the following collection if the circumstances allow. Having presented three collections in digital form, I became more interested in the sensations one would feel at a live show/performance: the excitement of attending and being part of a show that only happens once, the firsthand experience of looking at the design and textured qualities of garments, and the warmth of the audience as well as the character of the show space, contributing to the ambience of the show. Even if a live show like this is filmed and later presented as a video, it still captures the qualities of being life, which differ from a digital presentation that is fully edited and choreographed.

What’s one piece of advice you would like to share with other designers in the industry?
As the designer of ISSEY MIYAKE (the women’s collection), I can only speak for my practice at the brand, and I would be grateful if other designers find it applicable and helpful in some way. For me, the most important aspect (and challenge) is our entire and continued engagement with research and development, where we integrate technology and creativity as the basis on which we create original garments for every collection.