[Editor’s note: This collection was originally presented on October 15, 1997, in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts, and the photos have been digitized as part of Vogue Runway’s ongoing efforts to document historical fashion shows.]
Issey Miyake’s spring 1998 collection opens with a “Look, ma, no hands!” moment. Barefoot models appear wrapped in stretch dresses with no armholes. Words like mummy or bondage might come to mind, but the soft tones of the clothes and the wispy hairstyles of the models suggested some sort of emergence or cocoons. Miyake, who was often inspired by dance, described the pieces as tube veils. “Fashion today,” he said in an interview with The Gazette at the time, “is the body seen through a film of translucent fabric—at once revealing and concealing.”
It’s fitting that a piece from this collection was included in the “Manus x Machina” exhibition at the Costume Institute, as the clothes were as concerned with anatomy (knits were patterned to mimic or accentuate the female torso) as technology. Some pieces were created from computer-generated stocking (tubular) knits. Others, according to W Magazine, were “made of bias-cut linen sewn as a tube and folded at the hem, their inner layers shrink-treated to create two different textures.” This kind of push and pull was emblematic of Miyake’s hands-on and textile-based approach to fashion. “Design is not for philosophy—it’s for life,” he once said.
In an interview with The Observer, Miyake described the collection as a “prototype” that enabled A-POC (A Piece of Cloth), a concept of customizable modular dressing that was presented on the runway for spring 1998 at a show that closed with models appearing in a line of connected dresses that were then cut (disconnected) into single looks. “The idea was to find a way to reinvent the whole process of clothing manufacture,” Miyake said in that 1999 Observer piece. That same year, Miyake named Naoki Takizawa creative director of the company, after which he devoted all of his attention to textile development.