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Indian designer Payal Khandwala pens her tribute to the legendary Issey Miyake


His endless dedication to the craft, his focus on innovation and his expansive use of technology, spans decades. His outwardly simple designs are buttressed by a team of scientists and mathematicians. He didn’t just cut and sew his pleats. Each design is meticulously scaled up on a graph, cut, sewn and then pleated to shrink to the precise size of the final garment. 

In a world where we jump from one thing to the next, and in fashion, from one season to the next, he devoted his lifetime to problem-solving one fundamental idea. And his unwavering perseverance to create this new language is central to the legacy he leaves behind.

He engineered his vision and his clothes. He made them flexible, versatile and allowed the body to move with freedom. He sculpted these inimitable three-dimensional forms, these resilient but fragile origami-like silhouettes. But he also sculpted something intangible, this sacred, intimate space between the textile and the body. And he did it in the most poetic way. All the while, creating garments that are exquisitely minimal, effortlessly elegant and forever timeless. This is what inspires me and I’m certain countless others. Such was his attention to detail, design thinking, commitment and philosophy.

I knew the first time I encountered his clothes, that they were special. Even my daughter never misses an opportunity to steal his clothes from my closet when she can. She’s thirteen now, but she started when she was only seven. She responded to it the same way. Because it’s how we feel when we wear them and how memorable they are, that makes them unique. His clothes still whisper in a sea of garments that shout. This is the wisdom of his talent.

When I read about his extensive process, I tried to reverse it to solve the problem. The idea was to play and create garments with minimal intervention or no sewing. Just simple flat pieces of uninterrupted pleated fabric, slit precisely for the neckline, to make room for the arms, just a button or a string to hold it together. For a country that is so comfortable with saris and dupattas, I was curious to explore how these garments would echo that philosophy of drape, so inherent in our culture. And to this date, each time I make a new shape, it reminds me of the intricacy of his infinite skill.

Issey Miyake spent all his life making ‘clothes for many and not fashion for a few’. And he must know that we will continue to cherish them for all of ours.

Also read:

The master of ‘Pleats Please’ – Legendary fashion designer Issey Miyake passed away at the age of 84

Designer Payal Khandwala only makes clothes that she will wear herself

Aditi Rao Hydari’s regal Payal Khandwala outfit is a lesson in pairing lehengas with a kurta



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