Thursday, May 3, 2012

Press and Fold: (Really) Lost in Translation

                                         The Issey Miyake 132.5 in Minami-Aoyama: How did I
                                       manage to shop here if I couldn't even work the i-Pad look books?
                                      Origami dress: not for everyone but could change the way we pack.

Every garment perfectly flat packs into a square. Who woulda thunk?

TOKYO----Being an Issey Miyake fan dates me but after a long hiatus of not being a customer, I made a new Miyake jacket purchase last week at the Issey Miyake 132.5 store conveniently located next to Yohji Yamamoto for whom I have never stopped being a customer. Nothing from Miyake has excited me in maybe 20 years because other brands got in the way but an exhibition last month at Tokyo Midtown's Design Sight museum inspired me to re-examine the brand.

The exhibition was a retrospective using Irving Penn's photographs. While viewing it, I found myself saying any one of the following phrases--- "Hey where is THAT jacket/top/coat of mine?", "Oh I should have bought that when I saw it in --New York, his store, Tokyo, Diane B, Charivari, etc..", Ïf I wore that today it would STILL look good.." "What happened to my Issey Wind Coat?" Ï KNEW I should have just lived on toast for a week to buy that scarf..." I thought THAT SHOULD be signs of a good thing. Clothing that still looks timeless after 20-30 years HAS to be fabulous.

(I'm not sure but I think...) 132.5 was started in 2008 and I only noticed the shop in Aoyama last year partly because it is in an ugly brick building next to a parking lot. (Yohji also blends into that particular parking lot and I can never find it despite going there a few times a year for many years)

The line seems to use only one type of high tech all-weather fabric (it's Japanese, remember?) which is a by-product of recycling. Unlike the popular Pleats Please which also packs flat but is 2 dimensional, 132.5 opens into a three dimensional garment thanks to buttons in strategic places and a type of computer algorithm that allows designers to cut a pattern and pre-pleat or fashion the garment with folds, then permanent press every studied crease. From a production manager's point of view, I can only say, "I don't think we can make it in China and I don't think it's gonna be 10 bucks a garment including hangers and shipping...AND I don't think we'll be able to find a pattern maker...."

So based in that premise and because I don't want look like a mainland Chinese fashion victim, I bought a jacket and will test it when I travel to Hong Kong next week.
A wonderful German woman who may be the world's greatest packer, taught me to use zippered cases to flat pack and organize everything in such a way that "You don't have to unpack..."

I don't think I'm going to be wearing the origami dresses on my next trip to the supermarket or to walk the dog but I think the trousers and jackets will look great with 'more normal'' pieces in fabrics like silk jersey, cotton, linen, etc..
If this 132.5 passes my test, I may not have to pack...or unpack.

Before I close, I leave you with an adventure in Japanese language studies:
Part of reading lessons is the all-important menu which is usually in Katakana (for slang and foreign words). My lesson yesterday was reading a quasi-'French"" menu which had the requisite BLT, Tuna and Tomato sandwich, etc..
But that's not the joke.
When I got to "Daily Special" (in traditional Japanese) which I read as "Pura Do-Ri Zu-Ru" (in Katakana) I was stumped....My teacher and I arrived at the word "Plat du Jour..."
Her explanation: Kitty-san, that is Japanese pronunciation of French words...

But that's not the joke either. The special at a French restaurant was...Wait for it: Spanish Omelette.
Her explanation: Ah, that is only Spanish-style omelette but restaurant is still French.

Nice. Truly international.
Arisugawa Park, Tokyo

TOKYO---After a year and last night's unsolicited twelve-hour sleep, I have decided to revive my blog today. I say that every year but life DOES get in the way and I have become so far behind in technology that I'm worried about my survival. I didn't even recognize my own blog.

Anyway, let's start with life in Tokyo which is as close to perfection as anyone can get. Everyday I walk through this beautiful park to get into town. The Japanese are so civilised and being in their parks is such a joy--no screaming, no dog shit, no being hit by balls, no liter, no running, no noise even when a group of 20 Japanese adults and children are picnic-ing....except when there is a group of five Australians. THEN you have enough noise to destroy your perfect park experience.

And let's not even discuss a quiet walk down my street until....I reach the housing for the Chinese Embassy  and hear screaming and yelling (in Chinese, moshirong!!) from the dormitory. Perhaps they found a Japanese dissident under one of the beds? 

The Japanese have been taught to be polite and restrained in public and my Japanese friends claim to be quite animated at home..."We scream!"