Tokyo-based artist Ei Wada - better known for his trademark sonic installations and performances with reassembled and repurposed analog recorders or television sets and for his gigs with the Open Reel Ensemble - has a passion for generating unexpected harmonies in constant flux.
Issey Miyake is instead known for producing pleated garments that quite often create optical illusions.
The two have become inseparable entities during the recent seasons: the musician has indeed been accompanying the catwalk shows of the Japanese house, creating his trademark disjointed audio signals that always seem to form perfect soundscapes.
The solemn crystal chandeliers decorating the salle des fêtes in Paris' Hôtel de Ville, the venue for Issey Miyake's A/W 17 womenswear show, created a bit of an anachronistic scenario for the futuristic collection, presented at the beginning of March during Paris Fashion Week.
The runway opened with lights carving the silhouette of Ei Wada on the balcony, producing his sounds from vintage radios and other assembled mysterious pieces of equipment.
The first looks that graced the runway were inspired by the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights, as the press notes by designer Yoshiyuki Miyamae explained.
The "Auroral" section included therefore looks that mimicked the aurora enveloping the sky with its tones of blues, purples, reds, greens and oranges, described as a "chromatic fantasia" in the show notes.
Colours and textures overlapped and intertwined, shimmered and changed under the eyes of the members of the audience, hinting at the endless cycle of re-creations.
In some of the designs and in particular in the cloaks and the pants the effect worked better: blue turned into plum and viceversa, while lemon or green morphed into deep turquoise.
The effect was created by dying Shetland wool (picked since Shetland sheep are "born and bred under the Northern lights" according to the show notes) into five colors.
The wool was then combed into five threads, which meant that the yarn changed colour depending from the angle or the point of view of the observer.
Then came the "Plasma x Baked Stretch" designs: trademark Miyake stretch pleats with glue printed on fabric and then baked with colours inspired by the energy of magnetospheric plasma.
The optical effects were spellbinding and most looks were accompanied by footwear with a thick white sole or a corrugated platform that changed according to the viewpoint.
The shoes were part of an ongoing collaboration with United Nude (the S/S17 designs are currently available on the United Nude site) and the mutating colours of the platform perfectly mirrored the Aurora theme, while continuing to explore the universe in flux analysed in the S/S 17 collection.
The closing section of the runway featured the "Auroras x Steam Stretch" designs: the steam stretch technique was here combined with heat-reactive threads that shrink when steamed.
The looks in this section featured concentric wave-like formations erupting from a central point to create undulating collars and hems on coats and dresses. While the layered graduating and pulsating colours generated visually enticing effects, the materials seemed to bounce on the models' bodies to the rhythm of Ei Wada's music.
The show closed with Ei Wada's uplifting bleeps and models smiling, the latter by now a classic on Miyake's runways. Yoshiyuki Miyamae thanked the audience, nodded to the musician who, clad in a Miyake Aurora Borealis jumper kept on producing his geeky sounds as the lights dimmed.
As a whole, it was a fun affair, a runway filled with music, dancing textures, mutating colours, and playful and elementary yet voluminous silhouettes.
Hopefully Ei Wada will keep on being a regular fixture in Miyake's shows: maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea for the fashion house to start releasing Ei Wada's runway soundtracks and sell them (obviously at affordable prices) in Issey Miyake's shops.