Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Decade of Issey and a Miyake to Dai For

A Double Dose of Japanese Design

Ever since we debuted on Bravo's "Fashion Hunters", we've become very recognizable and, for better or worse, -- in many viewer's eyes -- forever linked with legendary Japanese designer "Issey Miyake". We could hardly ask for better than that, particularly on our first national appearance. What if we were inextricably linked with, say, excess hair removal?

Judging by unsolicited and highly supportive comments we continue to receive from a broad swath of people (who have hailed us on the street, at the Philadelphia Craft Show, at the Pier Antiques Show, at the Brooklyn Museum, at the supermarket, on subway platforms and other places), we have a developed a whole new legion of fans (who, alas, had no idea we did a blog until we gave them our business card). Although anyone who is not thoroughly smitten with us following our TV debut may simply not bother to approach us, most New Yorkers have a reputation for sharing their frank and unexpurgated opinions with the world at large, so it looks as though, to quote our beloved Oscar Wilde: Nothing succeeds like excess. (Thank heavens!) And while we're quoting Oscar, here are thirteen more of his bons mots très apropos: The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

Sooooooo, it was especially fitting that we attended a party on November 3rd, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Issey Miyake store on Hudson Street in its still striking Frank Gehry-designed Tribeca location. We rendezvoused with our friend artist Katherine Crone, and discovered we were all decked out in Miyake finery to commemmorate the evening. It was the perfect trifecta of Partying, People Watching and Shopping. Sublime!


We'd met the DJ at Fashion's Night Out earlier this fall. His musical selections matched the hip, upbeat mood of the crowd. You could observe people absent-mindedly start to rock to the beat, tap a foot, shake a booty.

Valerie ran into Marybeth (who makes extraordinary Japanese sweet cakes - tasty and the very definition of EYE CANDY) at the party.

At this event, the customers are always as chic and as interesting as the staff and designers. (Sometimes, only the shopping bag provides a much needed visual clue.)

Issey creative director and buyer Zari was one of our very dapper hosts that evening. In addition to wine and bubbly (flecked with a smattering of edible flowers), they served the most delicious tiny cream puffs with metallic glitter-flecked frosting.

Another Issey employee models this marvelously graphic pleated skirt.


Fan favorite Louise Doktor is frequently photographed by Bill Cunningham because of her unusual style and taste. Needless to say, on this occasion, Louise did not disappoint. Her multi-color coat was the perfect counterpoint to her signature coal-black black hair and dark-rimmed eyes.

Shortly after arrival, we bumped into Brandon Acton-Bond, who was subversively wearing his Miyake trousers under long shorts. Where does he get such restraint? (Obviously, we don't suffer from that condition.)

This is Ryo Miyamoto, who does a street style blog. We first ran into him at the Independent Fashion Bloggers Conference and then again on Fashion's Night Out (FNO) at IF Soho. He has an amazing eye for individuality and detail.

People Watchers had the tables turned on them at this event. Case in point, model/blogger Wataru, a devoted Comme des Garcons fan, obviously also likes Miyake. (Although we couldn't at first remember his real name, Jean immediately blurted out his knickname -- Bob -- the minute she laid eyes on him. When we first met him at FNO, he explained that his nickname "Bob" came from the fact that he used to have a hairdo just like Jean's.) Check out Wataru's blog, An Unknown Quantity. (Great name!)

Even the ubiquitous photographers dress for this party!

This gentleman was sporting a vintage Miyake jacket in shades of grey and black and looked right in style, demonstrating once again the timeless quality of Issey's designs.

This pair of ladies clad in black and grey were shopping and hanging out, obviously enjoying the scene. (See how we date ourselves? People younger than us drop the 'out' and just say 'hanging'. But what do young people know? We hear they think FRIEND is a verb. Imagine!)

Grey and black were among the most popular colors, judging by the attire of the guest/shoppers that evening. Check out this dude's fab white boots.

Both men and women got into the act.

Jean wants to know this Miyake-clad woman's secret for persuading her non-Miyake husband to attend these types of events.

We met this pair when we first entered the party. Both were obvious Miyake devotees, further proving the point that Issey Miyake designs appeal to a wide audience, and come in a myriad of colors in addition to black and grey!


This gentleman modeled a graphic long, grey vest.

Valerie couldn't resist getting into the act, trying on this great orange and gray vest. (We both lusted over it when we first saw it on an Issey employee on Fashion's Night Out. See our FNO posting for another photo of this fabulous origami piece.) A great design that simultaneously hides and celebrates hips.

Here are glimpses of four of the store installations.

The Miyake logo greets you as you cross the threshold to enter or leave the store. Much as we hated to leave when the party was in full swing, we had to shoot uptown to FIT for the opening of Rose Hartman's photography exhibition. POOR us!

Dai Fujiwara at Japan Society

Valerie says: Late in October Katherine Crone emailed me one day (who phones anymore?) to ask if I wanted to go with her to the Dai Fujiwara slide show lecture, interview and reception scheduled for mid-November at Japan Society. For those of you who don’t know who Dai Fujiwara is, here is a portion of the brief biography on Japan Society’s website:

[Dai Fujiwara] joined the Miyake Design Studio in 1995 as a member of the Issey Miyake Paris collection team. In 1998 he started the A-POC (A Piece of Cloth) project with Miyake, winning the Good Design Award in 2000. The project was exhibited at Vitra Design Museum in Berlin as well as MoMA. Fujiwara became the creative director of ISSEY MIYAKE in 2006. In 2008, he left to start DAIFUJIWARA AND COMPANY.

So as a dyed-in-the-wool fan, of course I wanted to go, and for multiple reasons.

On the appointed evening, I thought the best way to honor the master would be to wear an item he is known for. I struggled into the top half of the suit that made its television debut several weeks ago. And into my bag I carefully slipped my copy of A-Poc Making: Issey Miyake and Dai Fujiwara, in hopes that I could get it autographed.

Katherine and I sat in the second row, and had a great view. (Jean, alas, was away on business.)

Following the lecture, there was a Q&A session, so I thrust my arm into the air, puffy cuffed A-POC sleeve and all, and took the opportunity to ask Mr. Fujiwara about his jacket, which was two interwoven shades of blue. After graciously answering my question, he said “And you are also wearing something interesting. Is it one of our designs?” I replied “Yes, I wore it for you.” Mr. Fujiwara then said, among other things, that it was one of his favorite designs. “It is also one of Issey’s favorites”, he added.

Well! Way to make my day!

At the reception, I thrust my digital camera into Katherine’s hands, whipped out my book, and patiently waited on line for Mr. Fujiwara’s attention. When it was my turn, I asked him if he would mind signing the book and he kindly obliged, while Katherine hurriedly took a few pictures under less than perfect circumstances.

Oh, to be Horst P. Horst, or Helmut Newton – with hours in which to plan a shot, set up the lighting, adjust the wrinkles on the model’s blouse, turn the head ever so slightly and raise one eyebrow just so…

But there were many people waiting behind us, so we hit the shutter a few times, and hoped for the best.

For a brief moment, everything came together. Dai Fujiwara, the fabulous design he made with Issey Miyake (well, the blouse half of it), the book that features the design, Katherine and me. And Mr. Fujiwara couldn’t have been nicer, or happier to see his work in the –um – flesh. I returned home with a smile on my face that I don't need to explain to anyone.


  1. You ladies are truly an inspiration!!! I wish I lived in New York in hopes of just hanging out with you two one night, I'm sure it'd be great fun :)

    I just checked out your television debut...great outfit but I think it looks GREAT on you!!! I cringed when the girl in the shop said "I want to know her connections, where do I have to go to find them, Chinatown?? China?!" When you said you lived in JAPAN for 10 years...*Sigh* haha

    You two make me feel like I, along with anyone else, can wear anything...and I appreciate that :) Great post :) :)

  2. I really liked your article. very much helped me and other friends, I have bookmark your website, and I hope to return again to read the latest info from you.

  3. Hi

    You look amazing in that top. I saw that episode. Will you be donating that outfit to a museum after wearing it a few more times? Valerie, you look great with your hair down and up in a bun! Jean and you are inspirations for me in my 20s to explore fashion. Thank you!

  4. Hi~~
    I enjoyed my quick trip through your current post, but REALLY the reason I am here is that I have been tracking VALERIE (hope I got that I.D. right) to find out more about the purple pants she is wearing in your iconic photo. I am a self-identified "cloth engineer" and in your logo photo there is only a tantalizing glimpse of how those pants are assembled. I've been to several related websites asking if someone could please put me in touch with Valerie so I might request more photos of the pants (front, back, sides). They don't have to be on you - they can be on a hanger. Any information you supply will be for personal use only. BTW, I am 60-something and have been stopped by visitors to my smallish western city who want to know, based on my clothing choices, if I'm from NYC.