Thursday, September 08, 2011


Originally posted 10/27/09

Why is she telling this story backwards?

(Above) A fabulously unusual Miyake design.

I have loved Issey Miyake for a long time, and have a good collection of his patterns, although I've actually only sewn a few of them. Wearing his designs takes a certain confidence in your own artistic interpretation and expression that I think I've had to grow into.

One thing dressmaking has shown me is the amazing variety of body types, dimensions and fit preferences out there. In theory, all clothing should be custom made, but I do realize that it would require a complete re-thinking of how many of us live. As unique as snowflakes, we all navigate different climates, social and professional cultures, physical requirements and challenges, different levels of health, flexibility and body image...

I really marvel at the idea of relatively sizeless wearable sculpture, since my clients, and most people I know, are usually looking to clothe themselves in garments that mimic the shapes of their bodies.

I know Miyake and I are kindred spirits because he co-authored one of my very favorite books about Madeliene Vionnet...

Kimono-making lessons - I was fortunate to have the opportunity to make kimono for kabuki theater early this year. The director had very little to spend on costumes, but knew A LOT about kimono-making, so instead of charging my normal rate, I charged her less, in exchange for lessons and insight. If you have never made one, you wouldn't believe the amout of detail and tradition that govern how a kimono is "properly" made. It is extremely specific, and not something I would recommend trying just for the heck of it. To do it properly (if that is your goal), you have to learn new techniques, and hand-sewing skills. Tradition matters here, and it all doesn't make sense at first... I had to hear a lot of stories before I started to understand. The opposite of the way I usually work, the design of the kimono dictates the fabric, instead of the other way around. Of course, you can always approximate the kimono with modern techniques, but it will be more of a costume version, or a westernized nod to the style of the kimono.

The origami Yoda, pictured above, was an absolute inspiration to this process. Doesn't he look warm and cozy?

I always longed for a winter coat that looked like it was meant to compliment the grey winter cityscape, and I love to be that odd tile in our city's mosaic, so the Miyake coat undertaking was right for this moment. So maybe it took a decade or so, but I finally did it!

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