Takahiro Miyashita plays with past work in new collection

Takahiro Miyashita – TAKAHIROMIYASHITATheSoloist. Spring Summer 2022 

“PAUSE≒PLAY”

Takahiro Miyashita has always been more obsessed with music than with fashion. The label that brought him fame was Number (N)ine, a now-defunct brand named after the experimental sound collage “Revolution 9” from The Beatles’ “White Album.” After leaving in 2010, Miyashita started TAKAHIROMIYASHITATheSoloist., which has been far more abstract and unexpected. Miyashita’s Spring Summer 2022 collection “PAUSE≒PLAY” exemplifies both of these categorizations. Some garments are borderline indescribable, like a pair of pants that are cut just above the knee, leaving the shins exposed and the extra fabric limp, flopping onto the model’s calf with each step. Some garments are worse than indescribable and are actually egregious, such as a collaboration with fellow Japanese brand Suicoke to make five-toed black leather ankle boots (for those who despise Margiela’s hooved tabi boot). To make matters worse, these boots are styled with skin-tight running shorts. I’d like to attribute the five-toed shoes to Miyashita just wanting to tap into a micro-trend (Rick Owens, Doja Cat and Dorian Electra have all recently worn AVAVAV’s four-toed claw shoes), but considering the amount of time it takes to produce a show, the real explanation might be that Miyashita is just genuinely weird. 

All the models wear lunch paper bags over their heads, printed with the slogan “Listen To The Soloist” and with eye-holes cut out, the anonymity part of a conceptual and unspoken influence on the show: the Blue Man Group, an American art performance group renown for its productions featuring mimetic skits and songs by the eponymous “Blue Men.” Despite this self-stated inspiration, I’m happy to say that the Blue Man Group’s presence only exists in execution. The catwalk is set in an industrial, all-black environment lit with two strips of white lights, a possible reference to the theatre stage, and original music written by Akira Kosemura accompanies the show. It feels like a spectacle, but there are no brightly painted middle-age men running around, thankfully. Instead, there are unusually complicated pieces. For example, one grey suit vest is half-finished, with the other half-covered with cut-off white fabric and the hem folded backwards to show the structure of the back. The vest’s curved pattern creates undulating stitches that run throughout the body, and the use of surprising materials such as transparent PVC and tape along the bottom edge is so ideologically punk that it makes up for some of the less impressive parts of the show. One of the more bizarre constructions appears to be the bottom third of an MA-1 military flight jacket tied around the waist underneath a blazer, such that from the back it appears as though the entire jacket is underneath an impossibly small blazer. Almost every look contains some trompe l’oeil details like these that make one question the structure, function, comfort and material, etc. of the garment. It’s in analyzing these embellishments that the collection shines. 

Miyashita may be the answer to a desperate demand in menswear for unconventional layering pieces. This desire for layers results in Internet frenzies forming around looks such as Timotheé Chalamet’s 2019 Golden Globe outfit, which included a black sequined Louis Vuitton harness, or any one of a number of A$AP Rocky’s looks such as his iconic babushka or the Cheetos-orange puffer jacket he wore during Milan Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2017. The joke is that the universal outfit for most menswear enthusiasts is simply jeans, sneakers, a t-shirt and either a hoodie or a plaid flannel—in other words, the universal outfit for most, well, men—and at this point, there should be asymmetrical tank tops, bondage skirt-pants, anything different. Miyashita is one of a handful of veteran Japanese designers who helped make jeans, sneakers and a t-shirt fashionable for menswear in the first place by putting them on the runway in the ’90s and early 2000s. Miyashita’s Number (N)ine Fall/Winter 2003 “Touch Me I’m Sick” famously reinterprets key Kurt Cobain ensembles using specific examples from Cobain’s wardrobe: blue mohair cardigans, button-up heart-print pajamas, thick oval white-rimmed sunglasses, winter hats with ear flaps and patched jeans. Admittedly, these are simple garments, but that 2003 show embodies Miyashita’s visionary appreciation of grunge style, as well as the novel concept of using one celebrity’s closet as source material. 

Over time, Miyashita has become more and more unorthodox. His final show for Number (N)ine Fall/Winter 2009 “A Closed Feeling” is widely regarded as his magnum opus for its faux-baroque and subtly gothic looks. A typical look from this show might put together a reconstructed dinner jacket with a frilled poet shirt and mismatched vest, a black wool skirt atop white thermal underwear, imitation L.L. Bean duck boots and a feathered fedora whose brim forms a veil made of chains around the model’s face. “PAUSE≒PLAY” is continuing this history of complex layering, since details like lacy Victorian collars, the styling of the shorts with long socks and face coverings are reminiscent of earlier work like “A Closed Feeling.” At the same time, the masks are also clearly prescient—it’s moments like these that illuminate the title of the show. The act of pressing pause and play mirrors our own collective in-between state, as some people get ready to move forward and others continue waiting. In a Q&A at Tokyo Fashion Week, Miyashita said, “I have never looked back on my own past or self-reflected, but this season I started to develop the collection by thinking about who I am as a person. I pressed pause for a moment in order to press play again.” 

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