One of the hot topics at the 2014 SS Paris Men's Collection was the appointment of 27-year old Yusuke Takahashi as designer for ISSEY MIYAKE MEN. To all appearances, Takahashi has gotten off to a good start with his debut show and its appraisal by journalism maven Suzy Menkes, for his young reinterpretation of traditional dyeing techniques.

Since the 2013 SS season, Takahashi had been part of the men’s planning team under the Miyake-lead “Reality Lab” project. In the following AW season, he appeared alongside textile engineer Manabu Kikuchi at the end of ISSEY MIYAKE MEN shows. His eventual appointment as designer would have seemed a matter of course if it were not for the fact that Takahashi had only three years of working experience beforehand at Miyake Design Studio, after his graduation from Bunka Fashion Graduate University (BFGU). For all his training at Reality Lab he was still 27 years old; that age where most of us have only just begun to comprehend what it means to work, where perhaps we have allowed a meager achievement to go to our inexperienced heads. It would not have been surprising if Takahashi’s appointment was deemed premature, even with the veteran staff supporting him. The question is on everybody’s minds although the man himself may be stumped by the references to his seemingly too-young age. This interview explores the conviction behind Takahashi’s response to being selected for such a heavy role, in context of his past relationships- with design and fashion.

・SOEN Awardee
Here I am compelled to share with the reader my personal encounter with Takahashi in his BFGU years. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry was backing a series of events hosted by SME Support (Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation) that laid focus on textiles. As general director, I happened to be leading a group of students on a study tour of production regions, and Takahashi was one of the students who had passed the screening. His enthusiasm stood out as he went around the bus asking for feedback of his open portfolio. The way in which he observed things on the study tour was also telling of his ambitious personality- a requisite trait for any designer.

Takahashi’s portfolio went into application for the SOEN award and won with flying colors in 2009. The inspiration for this work was picked up at the “Skin + Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture” exhibit at The National Art Center, Tokyo in Roppongi. His dress in particular appealed with its refreshing elegance. Put simply, Takahashi possessed a grace and character uncommon to the youth of the day. Deciding on a theme is difficult enough as the journey of creation already starts there, only to be followed by an even tougher process of research, in-depth exploration and casting into shape. From idea to production is a tricky path requiring patience and dedication yet Takahashi had demonstrated his competence in all areas of the process.

To be continued into 2/4.