UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO / Summer 2007
[en vogue]
Common Thread
Cutting edge designer Issey Miyake on campus
by Kelly Knufken

High fashion came to USD in the form of a presentation by designer Issey Miyake, one of three Kyoto Laureates honored at the 2007 Kyoto Laureate Symposium.

Miyake’s presentation on March 16 featured a pair of models showing off the designer’s creations while strutting up and down the aisles of USD’s Shiley Theatre.

The Inamori Foundation awards the Kyoto Prizes annually in the fields of technology, science, and arts and philosophy. The awards, presented in Japan, are considered on par with the Nobel Prize, and the symposium in San Diego is aimed at bringing greater Western attention to the program. In addition to Miyake, the 2006 prizewinners celebrated in San Diego in March were U.S. immunologist and geneticist Dr. Leonard Herzenberg and Japanese statistical mathematician Hirotugu Akaike. Each year, USD hosts a presentation by the arts laureate.

Miyake looked at ease giving the presentation, smiling and interacting with the models. “I think some people think that fashion is simply a matter of presenting new and different trends,” he said. “But our work has never followed this plan.”

Miyake says the common thread for his designs is beginning with a single piece of cloth or thread and exploring the relationship between the body and clothes.

Miyake’s presentation featured models wearing looks from throughout his 37-year career. During one dramatic moment, an assistant ripped at a large piece of paper to reveal a red shirt sandwiched between sheets of paper, demonstrating the technique behind Miyake’s unique “Pleats Please” line. The shirt immediately was added to a model’s outfit.

An animated video showed how Miyake’s “A Piece of Cloth” concept brings entire outfits — a dress complete with hood, socks and a bag, for instance — to life from a single piece of cloth.

Another dress brought out the little girl in the smiling model, as she skipped and jumped to show off the dramatic, bouncy movement inherent in the garment. “Dangerous, but amazing” was how Miyake described it, as the audience applauded enthusiastically.

USD President Mary E. Lyons captured the mood with her summation: “What a wonderful, wonderful, delightful experience — and an unforgettable experience — for all of us who had the privilege of witnessing this event today.