22 June 2013


Symphony#0008 AMRCN DANDIES
Autumn/Winter 2013

When you eat, really eat. When you walk, really walk. When you listen, really listen. When you create, really create. In the practice of mindful awareness being able to focus on the present, and the physical and emotional investments of your current activity, becomes the difference between existing and really living. The present moment is all we have, and yet we speed through it, reliving the past or worrying about the future. Anchor yourself to the here and now and suddenly perspective shifts and you are free to really focus. What has happened has happened, what will come will come, but you can deal with whatever comes here and now. It is a philosophy that I think applies to many areas of life, more obviously so to the world of fashion, for in fashion the only moment we have is right now.

There is however a notable distinction between the two ideas of the present moment, between that thrust upon us by fashion, and that of our own awareness. Fashion focuses on the now out of its fear of mortality, obliterating the linearity of history to create some ostensibly immortal sense of the ever-present. But being personally aware to our present is to acknowledge and embrace the fleeting nature of lived experience. But can this latter approach be adopted to the benefit of the former? I would argue so, and it is something I think one can find in the work of many designers (and artists, or just about any creative really). It is about giving yourself over in that moment to the work and your own vision, focusing on what it is you are doing, and finding that place where your work becomes a natural extension of your mind.

Of course this may not happen all the time, or indeed most of the time, but when it comes to fashion I think there is something incredibly alluring about designers who work in such a way that their clothes feel like a natural and organic part of their lives. It is not necessarily even about having a well-defined singular aesthetic, but simply a true representation of your aesthetic in the moment (and I would argue that focusing on this actually helps to define the former). I like Rick Owens' philosophy of already having every collection he will ever do inside him - it is merely a matter of revealing it to himself in the moment. I think there is an immense bravery required to give yourself over entirely to a personal idea(l) in art or design, for it is far less revealing to simply work in the spirit of another (the difference between Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld). I am not saying one is better than the other, because both present their own set of challenges and accomplishments, but for me, the personal approach will always be more fascinating.

We belong to an age where we are encouraged to document and broadcast every fleeting thought and mundane activity, but in this instance I do not think it is about opening your everyday life for other people to see. Instead it is about coming from somewhere at once more discreet, yet far more personal. Rather than showing people a singular facet - this is what I am doing right now, this is the artist whose work I currently love; the idea is to express a feeling through your work. Giving yourself over to a sincere expression through which somebody can know all they really need to know about you and your work. People buy an idea, they buy a label, they buy a price tag, when really they should buy a garment - see how it fits, see how it feels, buy it and wear it because it speaks to you. I happen to find that feeling, that connection, far more often in designers whose approach is so personal and present, and for that reason I am led to seek their work out further.

I think clothing needs to speak to you, for it is only together that a dialogue can be created. If either side is off, the dialogue fails, whether it be a dress that does not feel right to you, or a body forced to fit into a garment that does not work with it. The relationship is not simply one of images, of a body that looks right, and a garment that looks right, but something far more intimate. The overwhelming majority of fashion and dress is consumed visually, however on the level of the individual it has to be about actually wearing the garments. As always I describe it in terms of feeling right rather than looking right. And I think that applies to art, or design, or poetry, or whichever creative endeavour really, because whether you are the artist or the individual experiencing that work, it has to create a feeling (as well as engaging the mind or senses) in order to really become something beyond output that serves only to maintain.

The reality is of course that there always needs to be an awareness of the audience at some level, for it is the support and pursestrings of the audience that allow the designer the economic freedom to pursue their creative path. But this is not a negative influence in my eyes, because it simply provides a framework within which to act and react. Unlimited freedom is detrimental to creativity, because without a framework applied, either internally or externally, it can be incredibly hard to focus. Creativity has its price, but all the same I think there can be room for that personal freedom for the artist/designer, provided they are brave (and daring) enough to pursue it. Create from the heart and people will react. Now whether that be a few or many, I am not sure it really matters (provided you can sell enough to continue to work), because I think the veracity of feeling will always find an affinitive audience. And it is that relationship, between designer and wearer, even if it be one only through clothing rather than direct contact, that is important.

I always have a rather romantic notion of designers seeking to create the world they see inside them, or reacting to the world they see outside them. Seeking to express something that they feel they have no other choice but to express. It is a comment you hear often from actors or performers, that they have this need they can not really describe, but it is as if they are only ever truly alive when performing. It is that sense of being entirely present in the moment, there doing what it is you love, and expressing something within you. Of course the reality is far from that simple, but I think the idea is still a beautiful one. And so I find myself fascinated by those designers who seem to continually refine a coherent and personal aesthetic through their work. In meditating over the same themes, approaching them from different angles, I think there is something of a desire to find a sense of truth. The truth of an idea, the truth of a concept, the truth of a design, the truth of a garment, the truth of your art. I do not mean to elevate fashion beyond its status, but I think that pursuit of truth can be found in just about any area of life, within those who are following a certain personal path.

Above I have posted the latest collection by Takahiro Miyashita for his line The SoloIst, which I have been following closely since the debut collection (which came as a relief after the shuttering of Number (N)ine and the incredible beauty of the A Closed Feeling collection). The collection is very much an example of what I have been trying to describe, being quite literally part of Miyashita's wardrobe and aesthetic world. Not only does he wear the clothes and accessories day-to-day, he is wearing and modelling them above, and helped compose the music for the video posted. It is an entirely personal project, in which he is intimately involved, and I think that really lends an additional beauty to the collection. You feel that sense of personal investment, even through the images themselves.

The collection includes not only the clothing, but also hats, gloves, belts, lanyards, jewellery, eyewear made in collaboration with Oliver Peoples, and footwear made in collaboration with Toshinosuke Takegahara of AUTHENTIC SHOE & Co. It is by any definition a complete collection, the individual pieces of which all bear traces of Miyashita quite clearly. And as such it is both refreshing and reassuring for me to see - here is a designer who creates something incredibly personal and entirely complete, covering every stylistic element. I really am looking forward to being able to try these pieces on and discovering just what they evoke. Whatever feelings arise, I am sure it will be a worthwhile experience to have in the present moment.  



  1. I remember you posted Takahiro Miyashita's fashion before. And I checked him by wikipedia just now,wow,he had his own shop when he was 20's on Omotesando where very fashionable street. Working on Levis is making sense. I like his black or mid night blue clothing.Beautiful layering. Miss fall!

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