Choo also received orders from Vogue, earning him his first eight-page spread in the magazine in 1988. His feature in Vogue would lead him to his business partnership with Tamara Mellon, who co-founded the Brand Jimmy Choo Ltd., and they quickly took the red carpet and fashion world by storm. The company currently has a global network of more than 200 stores worldwide, and it is part of a fashion luxury group publicly listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Though the partnership would later dissolve with Choo’s departure from the company in 2001, selling his shares and no longer taking part in the construction of the ready-to-wear shoes, the company is currently run by Choo’s niece, Sandra Choi who has been part of the brand since its inception in 1996. In 2003, Choo received the title OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire), for his efforts in helping make London the design center of the fashion industry world. He established Jimmy Choo Couture Limited in 2006, still crafting under a separate London label. Believing that bigger is not always better, the designer offers this luxurious couture line available by appointment only. Today, Jimmy Choo is turning his attention to educating the next generation of creatives and craftspeople as he assists in the development of The JCA x London Fashion Academy, teaching traditional craft techniques and entrepreneurship.
Immigrating to the United States as a girl, Wong knew humbler beginnings than the global glamour for which she’s famous today. Relocating from the countryside of South China to the city of Los Angeles, Sue Wong began crafting her own paper dolls as the family’s budget would not allow toys.
From these lavished DIY-designed paper dolls, she would begin making her own garments at age 9. Wong would make a steady rise through the industry from high school, winning opportunities, scholarships, internships, and finally earning an apprenticeship studying under the head designer of the California brand, Arpeja. In 1985, Wong established her own brand with day dresses and separates, later solidifying her glamour from everyday to eveningwear in 1999.
Today, Anna Sui’s fashion kingdom has reached into the realm of beauty and fragrance, with her notoriously intricate packaging now sought after as collector items, and an impressive 50 boutiques in eight countries and items sold in 300 stores in over 30 countries. Anna Sui, dubbed by Time Magazine as one of the top five icons of fashion of the decade, represents a never-ending source of both youthfulness and nostalgia throughout her 30-plus years in the fashion industry.
With seemingly limitless energy, Mori also developed a wide variety of licensed accessories and successful fragrances and designed uniforms for Olympic delegates from Japan and for the flight attendants of Japan Air Lines, including one iteration from the mid-70s with an attention-grabbing mini skirt. Hanae Mori shared in 2015, “The miniskirt boom that started in the mid-1960s was an expression of the energy women had to break through old value systems…I felt that the miniskirt fad was a symbol of how women were moving from a passive role to one in which they actively expressed their views.” Characterizing her designs was an understanding and embrace of her heritage, the textile traditions of Japan. Mori’s blending of Parisian dressmaking techniques with a sensibility of color and fabric developed through active attention to the Japan of her present and of her past established a signature style loved around the world.
Judith Thurman’s oft-quoted New Yorker profile of Kawakubo makes a passing comparison to Chanel, but the parallels are deep. The fierce demand for freedom and independence, the shock to the fashion establishment, the humble deflection claiming to be only a dress/clothing-maker, the savvy and practical business acumen, the uncompromising adoption of the power of men’s wardrobe to navigate a world built by men, and the solitude.
In 2017, 40 years of clothing from Comme des Garçons were mounted by the Costume Institute at the Met for their grand spring exhibition, this iteration titled, The Art of the In-Between. It was the first solo exhibition at the Met featuring a living fashion designer since their Yves Saint Laurent exhibition in 1983 and its obvious connection to commerce left a bad taste in the sensibilities of the fine art elite. The exhibition explored how Kawakubo’s work is never only one thing, never easily defined, nor even easily described. Her concepts are difficult to look at directly and her unwillingness to discuss them gives journalists and the public very little to work with or against. Perhaps this stems from her lack of formal fashion education, or her desire to start every collection from a place of nothingness, one without assumptions or expectations, or even a body. She seems to design to meet the needs of the garment rather than the shape and movement of the human who will wear it.
Kawakubo’s rejection of the quest for conventional beauty was never more shocking than in her Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body collection of 1996. Gingham fabric was stretched across bodies padded with non-normative bulges and protrusions, an alien’s interpretation of the description of a bustle or a farthingale crafted from a brief written description that has been translated several times. Seen again in choreographer Merce Cummingham’s 1997 production Scenario, they forced the dancers to rebalance and reacclimate their bodies, every movement both new and familiar. The full statement of her idea behind the garments “body meets dress, dress meets body and becomes one” brings to mind Plato’s soulmates: the yearning, the searching, and the ineffable joy when two become one.
Although he had intended to study law, Yamamoto left school to assist in his mother’s dressmaking business, and later attended the fabled Bukna fashion school. With his career of avant-garde fashion collections and philosophical forays into other art forms including the 1989 film Notebook on Cities and Clothes, working with director Wim Wenders, and My Dear Bomb, his 2015 autobiography, he might not have appeared an obvious choice for a partnership with an activewear brand. But Y-3, this fortuitous pairing initiated by Yamamoto, is still wildly successful nearly 20 years after its creation. The careful balance and tension between the two brands and their ideals defined the possibilities of high fashion + sportswear collaborations and introduced what we might now refer to as the epitome of athleisure - all of the comfort with all of the style.
Applauded for his avant-garde design vision, use of synthetic materials, and experimental innovations, Watanabe has also amassed attention within the mainstream fashion realm due to notable partnerships. Collaborations include Converse’s epitomic All Star sneakers in 2007, New Balance, Puma, and sourcing fabrics for his Spring/Summer 2013 collection. His Fall/Winter 2021 collection, which has been commended as a love letter to workwear, has seen collaborations between Carhart, Stepneys Workers Club, Levi’s, and The North Face. In addition to receiving a shout-out in Kanye West’s much-anticipated new album, Watanabe’s duality between techno-experimentalism and couture pattern manipulations continues to attract fans from all corners of the fashion spectrum.
Miyake’s famous pleated garments involved sewing and finishing before encountering the pleating machine, which required working backward through trial and error to reach optimal initial measurements that would pleat down to garments full of new volumes of bounce and energy. Later projects like A-POC “a piece of cloth” where entire garments were fully fashioned by machine in a single piece of fabric, and 132 5 whose garments rested in intricate, flat, origami inspired shapes and expanded into tubes of soft spikes when placed on a body, continued to reveal fresh ingenuity in garment construction. It’s no wonder all of the black turtlenecks favored by tech innovator Steve Jobs were labeled Issey Miyake.
A very special thank you to those who assisted and collaborated with The Fashion Map on our fashion window installation!
My warmest appreciation to the amazing Fashion Map team!
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