For Spring/Summer 2021, designer Satoshi Kondo shows us the magic of thoughtful construction—giving clothes a life of their own

At first, the movement is slow: crinkles in fabric twitch, a vest unzips, pleats unfurl like the petals of a flower. Then slowly, the clothes in Issey Miyake’s 2021 presentation come to life: not just on the bodies of the models, but as independent organisms that move and breathe, lace themselves up, undulate and fold into increasingly compact shapes. Expanding and contracting in unison against a black background, the unusual curves of the garments lend the unlikely choreography an oceanic quality: one can imagine them as sea anemones, shy to the touch.

Envisioning a collection so condensed that it could fit into a single box, designer Satoshi Kondo set out to joyfully explore all the unconventional ways to make garments compact; this is embodied in the ‘To Go’ series, which features pants that fold into a pouch, and a coat and poncho that transform into the garment bags in which clothes are carried. The knits celebrate a similar change in form with fabric that stretches like a sponge, or else rolls into compact shapes. The soft shell of a vest envelops the body in its construction, whereas the ‘Out A Piece’ series showcases dimensions that can be zipped together and constructed in different ways.

This theme of transformation underpins the whole collection: in the stop-motion portion, the clothes take on a new relationship to each other and to three dimensional space. Folding and unfolding like origami, they undergo changes in shape and volume that reveal their underlying construction and lay bare the thought behind their design.

As the presentation unfolds, this visual symphony is interspersed with shots of the models strutting through the aisles of an industrial space, lingering in front of an art exhibition inspired by the collection. In filling out the curves of the garments, the models transform the animated garments into clothing again—but one can imagine that, when the model’s back is turned, they continue a life all their own.

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