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Model at Issey Miyake show

Yoshihisa Tanaka creates reactive "membranes" from washi paper for Issey Miyake show

Artist Yoshihisa Tanaka made "hundreds of metres" of pleated and folded washi paper to create an interactive installation for Japanese brand Issey Miyake's Spring Summer 2024 show at Paris Fashion Week.

Tanaka worked with a Japanese factory with a history of more than 1,300 years of making washi paper to create the material, which is made from plants with a touch of clay, he said.

Yoshihisa Tanaka created an installation for Issey Miyake's SS24 show

The shapes in the floating paper installation were informed by Issey Miyake's design philosophy, which draws on the idea of a piece of cloth.

"Inspired by the concept, I thought about using a piece of paper in the simple shape of a rectangle and, by folding it, creating lines that are sharp and straight, as well as soft and curved," Tanaka told Dezeen. "It holds in the air as it moves effortlessly."

Set of Issey Miyake Spring Summer 2024 show
Pleated washi paper was hung from the ceiling

"A piece of washi paper, once it is pleated and folded, can be easily carried around in a compact size, and you can hang it easily by fixing just one point," he added.

"I envisioned an installation of washi paper where the pieces all convey these qualities to the most extent and for that, I did many studies trying to find their appropriate sizes in comparison to the scale of the venue."

Model at Issye Miyake show
Yoshihisa Tanaka worked with a traditional Japanese factory for the design

The resulting pieces were hung and draped from the ceiling, low enough in places for the models' bodies to affect them.

"I see these pieces of washi paper more as membranes that react to their surroundings in a very subtle way," Tanaka said.

"I describe their reaction as something that speaks to and answers to the movement of someone passing by as well as the resulting changes in the airflow, the sound wave, the humidity and even the person's emotions."

Fluid clothes at Paris Fashion Week show
The installation complemented the fluid fashion designs

The factory that Tanaka used continues the old tradition of making washi paper by hand, though for this project it used a small machine to make washi paper in "rolls of hundreds of metres", the artist said.

The Issey Miyake Spring Summer 2024 collection, called "Grasping the Formless", featured fluid, formless designs.

Model at Issey Miyake show
The Issey Miyake Spring Summer 2024 show took place during Paris Fashion Week

It was presented with the help of dancers whose free-flowing movements contrasted some of the more restrictive head-to-feet looks on show, such as the tubular Ambiguous knit series.

The collection was informed by a picture that Issey Miyake designer Satoshi Kondo took of a flag that was fluttering in the sky outside Parisian art gallery Bourse de Commerce.

"I was drawn to the flag's undulating form: its drapery waving in motion was beautiful and there was something accidental and transient about it that I found captivating," he told Dezeen.

"This is how I arrived at the idea for the collection to grasp and to represent formless elements found in nature and also the serendipitous moments they create, like the flag."

Dancers interacting at Issey Miyake Spring Summer 2024
It featured dancers who interacted with the designs

To Kondo, the washi-paper installation was integral to the presentation of the Spring Summer 2024 collection and created a more "comprehensive experience".

"The suspended pleated pieces of washi paper move in the air as they react to the cast's performance as well as the subtle changes in the surroundings," he said. "In that sense, the pieces work with the cast and are part of the scenography."

Crowd at fashion show
The paper installation aims to allow "freedom of imagination"

"The fact that they move only as a response to environmental changes conveys a sense of ambiguity," Kondo added.

"It was also our intention to create abstract, changing forms like these to allow the freedom of imagination."

Issey Miyake, whose eponymous founder passed away last year from liver cancer at the age of 84, is known for its pleated, draped and fluid designs.

After Miyake's death, we rounded up seven key projects from his five-decades-long career.

The photography is by Olivier Baco. Photography and video courtesy of Issey Miyake.

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Issey Miyake Spring Summer 2024
Issey Miyake Spring Summer 2024
Issey Miyake Spring Summer 2024
Issey Miyake Spring Summer 2024
Issey Miyake Spring Summer 2024
Issey Miyake Spring Summer 2024