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Fashion & Beauty April 16, 2017

The Rebirth of the Pleat

Forty-eight years on, Issey Miyake is still at the cutting edge, still relevant, still one of the greats — still a survivor both personally and professionally.


He survived Hiroshima when the bomb hit his hometown. He survived heartache three years later when his beloved mother died of radiation exposure. “I remember it all,” he said in an open letter to Barack Obama on Universal Peace Day.


Memories of the destruction aside, what has survived the test of time has been Miyake’s eye for beauty framed in a creative format that is both modern and optimistic.


Admired as a true innovator in the fashion industry by many peers, Miyake is a true paradox. He’s mastered combining tradition with technical technique backed by modern research and development.


Steve Jobs was so enamoured after meeting Miyake that he commissioned a working uniform from the designer. Miyake responded with hundreds of black turtlenecks forming the foundation of Jobs’s signature style of simplicity that he’d wear for the rest of his life.


Miyake’s clothes are light, washable, and don’t crease. Yet the star of the show must to be the quintessential pleat. Fashion critics even today decades later, are still praising the pleat as relevant.


“Words that come to mind when I think of Issey Miyake pleats are sculptural, elegant and timeless,” says Marilyn Sainty, retired fashion designer herself and owner of Scotties Boutique. “I’ve got a dress that I’ve had for well over 20 years and it’s still wonderful!”


True to his graphic design roots, Miyake’s fashion design philosophy has deep spacial awareness, especially when you look at the intersection of simplicity with function. He cleverly explores the relationship between the body, the clothing and the space in between.


His micro pleats, first unveiled in the 80s, have come full circle nearly thirty years later, appearing on the Paris Fashion Week runway and in the current international spring collections shown by designers like Jil Sander, Marni and Loewe.



Ultra-fine plissé pleats the fashionistas are saying are “cutting edge” and “classic”. Sainty agrees saying “they have certainly stood the test of time. Issey Miyake has had a rebirth, possibly because fashion comes and goes”.


She believes his style is so striking due to being “more technically innovative than anyone else I can think of”.



For 20 years Scotties has stocked the mainline of Miyake and now for the first time, his less expensive eponymous range, Pleats Please, first launched in 1993.


What’s the difference between the two? One uses more expensive and changing fabrics, explains Sainty, whereas the other is a mass made collection that does not alter a great deal in the styling or textiles.


If you want comfort with splendorous simplicity that’s easy to care for and lightweight, particularly if you’re a frequent traveller, this collection is for you.


Pleats Please is a “ground breaking and revolutionary method” according to Miyake’s website. The garment is designed first, and then the pleats are applied after the fabric is cut and sewn.


“It’s more versatile and affordable” adds Sainty. What Miyake does “superbly” she goes on to explain, is a beautiful horizontal shaped pleated dress, “but it’s not necessarily something you’d wear during the day”.


Looking at Scotties website, the pricing for a Miyake’s mainline skirt costs more than $1,000, a Pleats Please skirt is half the price.


“It’s often available at Scotties Recycle online too,” Sainty says, where you can pick up mainline pieces at Pleats Please prices.


Looking at the work of Miyake referenced by many designers either in a deconstructed manner, or streamlined, it’s evident that pleats do serve a purpose as they both offer a solution to the wearer with a busy lifestyle in a way that truly pleases.


Words: Sarah Sparks


Pleats please available at: Shifting Worlds

Level 1, 187-193 Elizabeth St, Melbourne

03 9600 0459 |

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