From his studio strewn with silken pleats and baubles, Kyoto-born Australian designer Akira Isogawa sifts through his personal collections of keepsakes and inspirations.
My family was very conservative when I was growing up, and creativity wasn’t encouraged, so I used to hide and draw in my bedroom. But my mother was very modern; she went to university in a time when not a lot of women did. Her spirit and energy is inspirational. As a child in kindergarten, I remember wearing kimono for special occasions in the summer. I remember how it felt, and the colour.
It was only when I came to Australia that I came to understand that Japanese fabrics were so unique and special. I didn’t actually realise how many types of textiles I collected until I moved to my current offices. There are huge amounts of silks with different techniques, like shibori, or Japanese batik, which I found in the flea markets at Kyoto. I became a compulsive buyer!
I go through them for inspiration, and through my own archives to understand and analyse what we’ve done and question whether it could be interpreted nowadays. For our show for the 20th anniversary of Australian fashion week, we mixed and matched our archives, so that was an interesting process. For the resort ’18 collection I spent a whole day going through the archive. That season felt more active in a contemporary way, because of how it’s styled, but it’s in the details like pleats and ruffles on cotton poplin shirts that are more traditional. I use red in almost every collection because it makes you feel optimistic – it’s a celebratory colour in Japan. It makes you feel energised.