This week I sat down to dinner with Mihara Yasuhiro to talk about his winter 2016 collection Paris mens fashion week this month. Mihara-san is certainly well respected in the industry for his ability to deconstruct garments, designing hybrid forms that speak to nowness. The guy spliced a classic canvas basketball sneaker with a pair of bowling shoes to kick off an iconic Puma collaboration, which in effect characterised a huge aesthetic movement in menswear that still rages around the world today. He continues to churn out wild yet forward-thinking pieces that earn him both industry and public respect. Really, we could call him a bit of a mad scientist, but to me the incredible gift of vision is pure creativity. Designer Nigel Cabourn who has known Mihara-San for close to ten years remembers clearly how impactful the shoe really was, “what he did, is he put a bowling shoe and a chuck taylor together… And I bought pair for myself because they were so damn cool. He is a well and truly respected designer and I myself could learn a thing or two about his work!” – Cabourn.
So over a five course tango between teppanyaki and “wrong” clothing (as Mihara-san describes his clothes), we two-stepped, waltzed, and wormed our way through the collection of hybridised vintage and heritage silhouettes; ripped apart, spliced, crudely patched, burned, and hacked into, all in the name of COOLNESS.
The opening track started us off to a course of charred mushrooms in various forms ranging from whole to pureed, as Mihara-san flipped through the details of his starting theme. Digital camo and school boy stripes printed onto heavy military sateen flavoured a series of ‘wrong’ looking coats and jackets, taped up with webbing and sewn incorrectly as if Mihara-san was giving the finger to tradition while ironically referencing it in detail. Button holes on coat lapels were lined with strips hide (think of the kind you would find on the back-pocket of a pair of jeans). Un-hemmed edges and all this clothing ‘wrongness’ added a sprinkle of charm to the catwalk models he showed me. It’s very much design inspired by greatness of the past, but it has transformed one step more into the future.
We rolled through the second course with some incredible seasonal lily flowers grilled for a few seconds, and we progressed through from the dark story of camo prints, black denims, a magnificent charcoal wool duffle coat with marine roping, and more wrongness in construction. Think about varsity jackets flipped onto military coats; one blazer sewn into another; until we reach the next course. Beef. Steaks are eased onto the smoking hot teppan for a change of flavour.
With the steak course brought fire as Mihara-san introduced me to the charred neutrals – that fatty sensation that hits a new part of your palette. Oatmeal knitwear made to look burnt round the edges, dyed and washed to get that “I’ve just played with fire” vibe; a knit suit violently brushed and washed to look like Mr. snuffleupagus. I also saw a wonderful womens trench paired with some very wide legged pants in off white, sliced up and fraying down the runway. Beautiful, wrong, and rad. Mihara-san finished his super fatty premium beef only to polish mine off too. I remember briefly thinking, “where does it all go??” but what a gentle-person nonetheless for saving me from the shame of leaving an unfinished plate of food before me.
A brief palette cleanse had us talking about how Mihara-san frankenweenie-s his silhouettes from vintage pieces in the design process. That’s why you’ll see familiar details say, a chore coat with panels stolen from a classic short denim jacket; or sweat pants with chambray panelling to continue the denim colour story and tie the entire collection together effortlessly. It’s a process that takes much design and manufacturing skill to get right, and there are really only a few who can nail it. Naturally we followed with a brief military encounter before moving onto dessert – the final act, dressed in plaid. It felt a little like neo-90s cuisine. On the catwalk, of course we delved into the grungy 90s a little, pants riding low, plaid shirt sleeves tied around the waist. Delicious design work. I was waay too full for my own good but it was a very tasty affair indeed.