Trac­ing pat­terns

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.

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