Irving Penn and Issey Miyake: Visual Dialogue

Installation view of the 'Irving Penn and Issey Miyake
Installation view of the ’Irving Penn and Issey Miyake: Visual Dialogue’ exhibition at 21_21 Design Sight, Tokyo
(Image credit: Photograph by Irving Penn)

Irving Penn was commissioned to photograph Issey Miyake's (opens in new tab) clothes for an editorial feature in US Vogue in 1983. The Japanese designer was so blown away by the resulting images, claiming to suddenly see his designs with fresh eyes, that he approached Penn to photograph his next collection. This marked the beginning of a collaboration that would continue for 13 years, one that is currently being celebrated with a new exhibition at Tokyo museum 21_21 Design Sight (opens in new tab) entitled Irving Penn and Issey Miyake: Visual Dialogue.

From 1987 to 1999, Penn photographed all of Issey Miyake's biennial Paris collections, resulting in more than 250 photographs, many of which appear in the exhibition, accompanied by Penn's preliminary sketches, a short film by Pascal Roulin, drawings by Michael Crawford detailing the process behind the Penn and Miyake creations, and posters by Ikko Tanaka.

The relationship between the two men was characterised by a strong mutual admiration but also a curious distance. Miyake never attended the photo sessions and Penn never went to one of Miyake's fashion shows. They never even discussed what they were trying to achieve, which is just the way Miyake wanted it. For him, the point of the collaboration was inspiration - and to be surprised.

As Miyake later commented: 'I was looking for the one person who could look at my clothing, hear my voice, and answer me back through his own creation. I searched long for such a person and found in Penn-san.'

The exhibition, which features both the individual and collaborative work of the two artists, runs until 8 April, 2012.

Issey Miyake collection poster

Issey Miyake collection poster, A/W 1991
poster design and typography by Ikko Tanaka
Courtesy of The Irving Penn Foundation

(Image credit: Photograph by Irving Penn)

'12 Apples', New York, 1985, by Irving Penn

’12 Apples’, New York, 1985,
Courtesy of the Irving Penn Foundation

(Image credit: photographed by Irving Penn)

Issey Miyake Seaweed Dress

Issey Miyake Seaweed Dress, New York, 1987
Courtesy of the Irving Penn Foundation

(Image credit: photographed by Irving Penn)

Issey Miyake collection poster, A/W 1989

Issey Miyake collection poster, A/W 1989 poster design and typography by Ikko Tanaka
Courtesy of The Irving Penn Foundation

(Image credit: Photograph by Irving Penn)

Issey Miyake collection poster, S/S 1994

Issey Miyake collection poster, S/S 1994, poster design and typography by Ikko Tanaka
Courtesy of The Irving Penn Foundation

(Image credit: Photograph by Irving Penn)

Issey Miyake Staircase Dress

Issey Miyake Staircase Dress, New York 1994
Courtesy of the Irving Penn Foundation

(Image credit: photographed by Irving Penn)

'Vegetable Face', New York, 1995, by Irving Penn

'Vegetable Face', New York, 1995,
Courtesy of the Irving Penn Foundation

(Image credit: photographed by Irving Penn)

the section of the exhibition at 21_21 Design Sight

A sketch by Michael Crawford, on show in the section of the exhibition at 21_21 Design Sight dedicated to the process behind the fashion shoots and collections

(Image credit: Photograph by Irving Penn)

ADDRESS

21_21 Design Sight
Tokyo Midtown Garden
9-7-6 Akasaka Minato-ku
Tokyo

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