The ineffable talent of Issey Miyake: even his longstanding friends and collaborators ‘cannot claim to truly know the full scope of who he is,’ writes Kazuko Koike in her new book Where did Issey come from?

But Koike is better positioned than most to offer insight into Miyake’s body-bending world. The designer is renowned for his revolutionary approach to fabrication, using industrial innovation to pleat and drape garments, seen in the brand’s Pleats Please and A-POC line. A Tokyo-born cultural commentator and creative director, Koike has already authored a complete chronology of Miyake’s clothing (Issey Miyake, 2016) and 1978’s Issey Miyake: East Meets West, and she worked with a young Miyake when his star was on the rise.

‘In Issey Miyake’s case,’ Koike writes, ‘it might not be inappropriate to think of him as being equipped with constantly whirring rotors of inspiration that allow him to make sudden take-offs and landings.’ In the book, which flies through time, space and dimension, Koike attempts to distil the fashion visionary’s life into words and image.

See Issey Miyake’s A/W 2018 collection here. Abve, from the book ‘Where did Issey Miyake come from?’. Courtesy of Miyake Design Studio and HeHe

Presented first in English, and then again in Japanese, we trace the designer’s life-thread through his early days in Hiroshima, studying graphic design at the Tama Art University in Tokyo, graduating in 1964, and the kaleidoscopic Paris and New York years, before returning to Tokyo in 1970, where he founded the industrially-functional Miyake Design Studio.

The books greatest joy, however, is not its factual chronology of Miyake’s career, but Koike’s compelling, lyrical musings on his style, personality, and vision. ‘[He] travels not only for relaxation, but for what he finds interesting,’ she writes in a chapter transparently titled ‘Travel and People’. ‘Then he returns to Japan with something completely unexpected.’ Elsewhere, she notes, ‘[He] excels in being tuned in to the zeitgeist. He acts so quickly that I often wonder how his staff can keep up with him.’

Elegantly penned, the volume dives into Miyake’s vivid talent, tracing the thread; not only of his roots, but his thoughts – daring to postulate on what he might do next.