Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Genius of Issey Miyake

A while back Sal of Already Pretty posted an article on favorite clothing pieces - items you just love, that you'd be very very sad if you lost them. (I forgot to bookmark it, and can't find it - if you have the link, let me know so i can put it in!) The comments were full of wonderful stories, and i left my own flowery comment about all of my clothes that have a place in my heart. For years, my favorite of favorites has been this jacket, which i made from an Issey Miyake for Vogue Patterns publication over ten years ago.

I bought this warm, rich navy coat-weight wool about fifteen years ago, cut out the pieces, and started the project. Then life got especially crazy and i didn't have a lot of room to sew and the fabric and pattern sat in a bag until i got married and moved into Mr. E's place. I got the bag out and finished the jacket, and it's been true love ever since.

The reason i haven't shown you this jacket until now is that it's very hard to photograph (i've tried several times).  On January 13th i wore it to a book reading, and coincidentally the next afternoon perfect lighting conditions appeared. So i took a whole bunch of pictures, and now you can see this Issey Miyake jacket!

The construction of this jacket is unique. Miyake creates fullness in the silhouette by slashing the main pattern pieces and inserting curved pieces of fabric using topstitching to emphasize this construction technique.  He also divides up the bodice and peplum in an unusual way - i'll try to photograph this part in the future for you. Of course i love the bustle at the back, the star on the sleeves, the peplum and pockets. My dream is to make up the coat which is the alternate view on the same pattern.

Miyake designed this jacket to be single-breasted, but i didn't make a muslin and it's a little big around the middle. The construction is so complex that the easiest 'fix' was to move the buttons over to the side......which looks fine to me.

What i wore underneath is basically the same outfit i  wore to tour The Museum of Colonial Bedposts in Carmel. a couple of days after the book signing. This outfit is so simple and comfy and appropriate for anywhere that i said 'screw it' when i had  very little time to pack for our trip to Monterey. I just packed around these two pieces and it worked out fine.

The skirt is a linen blend, part of my 'resolution' plan. I love it! The fabric was on a great sale at Joann's, which ends Wednesday. I'm going to do my best to stop by Joann's tonight or tomorrow to see if i can get any more (after all the fabric has been picked over).

The blouse was inspired by a look put together by Bev of Style Underdog. I loved the look of this blouse from Old Navy - it's lines are nice and clean, the fabric texture adds interest, but the overall shape reminded me of the old-timey Gibson Girl blouses. I e-mailed Bev to ask if she had any 'out takes' she could send me, as i was working on a pattern inspired by the blouse and it would be helpful.

Bev sent me a note with pictures of the blouse spread out flat on a sheet with a tape measure strategically positioned. Somehow i don't think THAT was an outtake from her outfit photo session!! How i wish i could attend the meet-up in Las Vegas and thank this considerate and generous woman in person - and how lucky is the Style Nation that she's working so hard to coordinate that shindig?  Very Lucky, that's how lucky!!

Here's a shot of my holey crochet socks layered over my brown wooly tights. It worked out great - i was warm and crochet-y all at once.

Interestingly, Sal said in her post on favorite things that she doesn't have any items that she's all that crazy about - she likes all her clothes, but she could lose any of them without worrying about it or losing any sleep (as it were). There's a lot to be said for non-attachment to materials things, but Sal's position is contrary to my own philosophy. I believe everyone who loves clothes should have at least one piece that they're just gaga over, the kind of thing that just feels decadent and wonderful - something you never thought you'd have the good fortune to own.  I actually have a handful of these type of items, and i still can't really believe my good luck!

So where do you stand on this burning philosophical conundrum? Is it enough to have a bunch of clothes (and accessories) that are 'good enough', or do you believe in striving for your dream pieces? No need for Cynthia to comment - these blueberry boots are exhibit A outing you as a dreamer!!!

Jacket: made by me from an Issey Miyake for Vogue Pattern (upper right)
Blouse: own design, inspired by Style Underdog
Skirt: own design
Boots: Bass Lamont
Bracelet: gift from mom, from Justina Leigh etsy shop


  1. Beautiful coat! Such amazing construction and details.
    Also, I remain in awe of your ability to reconstruct a blouse from sight.

  2. I love that coat. It has amazing details. I'm in awe of anyone that can sew. I just can't and don't really have the patience for it.

  3. The peplum on that coat is perfect - the shape, balance of lines are so flattering on you, no wonder it's one of your faves, it is fabulous! Sarah xxx

  4. I like how you have placed the buttons to the side. It adds even more interest to an already interesting coat! As for a favorite clothing item...it's an old ratty grey golfing sweater I snagged out of hubby's pile to take to the thrifts. I tend to wear it all day every day and have been known to sleep in it, but it is certainly NOT blog worthy! And, it is not something i'd run back in to a burning house to retrieve!

  5. What a fantastic coat! I believe Issey would approve of the button moving. ;)

    I have several items in my closet that I really love and can see owning for my whole life. How sad not to have any!

  6. Aw, thanks Steph.
    That coat is amazing and the blouse turned out perfectly. You have skills, Steph, SKILLS.
    I am in awe (again)

  7. I remember when Steffi got that pattern and I looked at it. My head exploded. Then she cut it out, etc. When she put it all together, I realized a lot more about my daughter. Then I went to Paris, and saw Issy Miyake's showroom every day, took pictures through the window, and and and - . Proud Mom here.

  8. Wow I am ever so impressed. That coat is fab.

    My current fave: charcoal gray knit dress with square pleated neckline and 3/4 length sleeves. It has a nice drape and I feel good in my skin when I'm wearing it.

  9. Fabulous jacket - very impressed you made it as the panelling looks quite difficult. I would never have guessed it was sewn at home it looks so professionally done. It actually reminds me with the peplum, bustle, waisted fit and buttons to the side of Vivienne Westwood's jackets.

  10. It's gorgeous, great job! I really want to learn how to sew, for some reason its not as intuitive for me as knitting!

  11. hee hee - i thought some of your ladies would 'get' this piece!

    hi Rad! thank you! actually, in the end i decided to design that blouse based on my first impression - gibson girl blouse streamlined - rather than dupe Bev's original. you are very kind : )

    Hello Joy! it does take a certain patience for fiddly details. fortunately, i have that type of constitution, so it works for me. don't ask me to sing, though! ; )

    Hi Sarah! that's a great point - it's not just that it's a great design, but that it suits me so much. THAT makes it a fave!

    hee hee Terri, now you KNOW i want to see that one! i have me 'sleepers' too - aaahhhh.....

    Hello Sheila! i had a hunch you have the same feeling towards certain pieces. Really, it's none of my business how anyone else feels about their clothing, and i'm not judging at all. But like you, i just get such a kick out of those special ones that it seems a shame for other 'clothes girls' to not have a similar experience. (and yes, i realize i'm projecting!)

    Hello Bev - well, you really went above and beyond on that one! & it's a lot of those 'behind the scenes' generosities that make this style community so wonderful. & i'm in awe back : )

    aw, ma, you are very sweet. (& the dogs request more cheezy weenies, please.)

    Hello ilegirl! that sounds REALLY nice on you! and a great description, btw.

    Hi Veshoevius! thank you! it was tricky, but i have to say that Vogue Patterns does a really good job with the directions, markings, etc. with plenty of basting it wasn't tremendously difficult. and YES on the relationship to Ms. Westwood - their first impressions are so different, but the structure underneath has real similarities.

    Welcome Franca! thank you! i don't know what the magazine situation is over in the UK, but here there's some helpful magazines on beginning sewing these days. Threads has one that looks pretty good:


    of course, if you find a good teacher it's gold. good luck!

    take care everybody! steph

  12. That coat is just lovely, and so timeless! The fitted waist and peplum is such a flattering shape.

  13. I'm impressed with your sewing skills and in love with these boots!!!

  14. I really really love the whole outfit, and the jacket! The story behind the jacket makes it all the better.
    the Citizen Rosebud