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During Paris Fashion Week last fall, Satoshi Kondo’s first collection for Issey Miyake was worn by women moving freely—arms outstretched—down the runway. Light, linen-like fabrics and waffle-like weaves conveyed comfort and a sense of ease. Hand-painted prints were inspired by images of ancient man praying to stones and earth or embracing under a clear blue sky. Minimal cutting and sewing resulted in looks and accessories, like oversized hats, that celebrated the idea of a piece of fabric itself. It being Issey Miyake, we also saw a panorama of pleating in vibrant colors, folding and unfolding elegantly with every move, a vision of joy and dance captured in fringe.
For his debut in this new role, Kondo, who has been at the fashion house since 2007, chose to start from the beginning, rediscovering the relationship between body and cloth.
WHITEWALL: The Spring/Summer 2020 collection is your debut as the new designer for Issey Miyake’s women’s line. What does this moment mean for you?
SATOSHI KONDO: I am excited for this opportunity. As the new designer, I am committed to applying what I learned from Mr. Miyake in moving things forward.
WW: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the Spring/Summer 2020 collection?
SK: When I talked with my design team, we thought about starting from the origin. I began by drawing an image of people from diverse backgrounds forming circles and holding hands. As I started to put the story together, I thought of the origin as a starting point where we are nude, in a literal and a conceptual sense, and cover our body by a piece of cloth. And then the story led me to Miyake’s concept: the relationship between the body and the cloth.
WW: Where do you typically start when dreaming up a collection? Is it material, is it a sketch, is it a mood?
SK: I start from a simple idea of bringing people together from different regions and generations, sharing a sense of joy. From this feeling, I started sketching my ideas.
WW: How would you describe your design process?
SK: I start by imagining stories or scenes and then putting them into sketches. Sometimes I imagine something and then immediately start putting fabrics together on a dress form as a way to visualize my ideas.
For example, for this collection, I tried to find and work with things that are both traditional and innovative: in the long history of clothes-making craftsmanship and techniques still being practiced in Japan today, and in the latest manufacturing technologies that produce new fabrics and other materials developed by advanced science. I believe that it is the integration of these diverse elements that create something new and interesting.
WW: Outside of fashion, where do you find inspiration? Nature? Art? Music?
SK: I find inspirations in music, nature, and art, as well as in many other things in life, as they often come to me serendipitously.
WW: What is your vision for the presentation in Paris, and how does it relate to the theme of the collection?
SK: I envisioned a show that is more than just models walking back and forth on a linear runway. I imagined models coming on stage from different directions, moving around freely in the space, allowing them to express joy with the clothing.
WW: Can you tell us about your experience in your role within the design studio, prior to this new position?
SK: I remember when I worked as a designer with Mr. Miyake on the IKKO TANAKA ISSEY MIYAKE project, we designed clothes that were iterations of graphic designer Ikko Tanaka’s work, translating flat graphic elements into three-dimensional forms. Thinking about it now, I feel that I have gained a better understanding of colors, shapes, and proportion from working with Mr. Miyake and studying Tanaka’s work.
WW: What drew you to fashion first?
SK: At an early age, I was always very interested in fashion, and enjoyed experimenting and wearing a variety of clothes. There was a point in my life where I had to choose between studying business or fashion design, and I chose the latter.
WW: What conversations are you having in terms of design related to sustainability at Issey Miyake at the moment?
SK: It has always been our company’s tradition to find creative ways in design to produce less excess fabric. As a designer, I am drawn to design with minimal cutting and simple construction, perhaps influenced by the concept of ISSEY MIYAKE (the women’s line), and what I found working with my team on the collection is that such designs often save fabric.
WW: Issey Miyake has always been a forward-thinking fashion house. What is your vision for the future of fashion?
SK: I hope to explore new techniques and develop new materials for the collection. But for now, I would simply be grateful if people can enjoy wearing the clothes I design.