PARIS – Paris’ catwalks are known to be fertile showcases of cross-cultural influences, but Issey Miyake took things to another level on Jan. 22 with a menswear show that marries Scottish dandyism to Japanese geometry.
The Japanese fashion house sent forth models dressed for business — and maybe a spot of tea in a refined highlands salon.
Tartan weaves draped some shoulders. Suits were slim and sharp and mostly gray-black somber. But reds and purples also burst out in the collection, either in socks or, in a couple of cases, in full peacocky get-up topped off with silk scarves.
“I was inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the Scottish architect,” said Issey Miyake’s men’s designer, Yusuke Takahashi.
Glasgow-born Mackintosh lived in the late 19th and early 20th century and earned a European-wide reputation as a stylish architect and artist who embraced the Japanese sensibility of light, clean lines. He added a rose motif to much of his work.
“He looked very elegant. For example he wore silk scarves in his portraits, and I used a lot of rose prints on the scarves,” Takahashi said.
The overriding effect sought — and achieved — was “a dandy with elegance,” he continued.
Soft silk, sourced from Japan and blended with nylon or polyester, was matched with masculine grids and ovals built into structured jackets.
Pant legs were cut short and paired with sneakers or slip-on shoes to emphasize the sporty undercurrent the house is reputed for.
Many of the models carried business-style bags, with images by a Japanese photographer, Satoshi Fujiwara, superimposed on them.
While Takahashi spoke intently about his inspiration and design choices, he was less outspoken when asked about the Scots’ famous independent streak — a topical issue after Scotland’s voted-down referendum last year to leave the United Kingdom.
“That is a very sensitive thing,” Takahashi said, laughing nervously.