Of Pleats, Perfume and pushing the creative envelope

Of Pleats, Perfume and pushing the creative envelope

By Deborah Fulsang

Issey Miyake elevated the simple sartorial pleat to extraordinary heights in the late 1980s. His innovation, technically and artistically, inspired the now-famous Pleats Please collection. Launched in 1993 for the spring 1994 season, the line of Miyake clothing celebrated the sculptural possibilities of the far-from-simple fabric fold. Tangerine, sky blue, sunshine yellow, fresh-grass green: Pleats Pleats pieces, now sold all over the world, came in a rainbow of 80 upbeat, life-affirming colours.
Why then, we ask, did it take 20 years to launch a fragrance that bottled that colourful optimism?

Well, Miyake was busy. The influential designer did, after all, launch his L’Eaux, the men’s and women’s toilettes (1994 and 1992 respectively) that were inspired by the simplicity and purity of water—with various fruit and flower essences mixed with the aquatic accords—and that in the end distilled the minimalist mood of the nineties cleanly and memorably.

The brand’s new Pleats Please spritz is far from that earlier aquatic-inspired vision. This is a crisp, bold floral ode to happiness. And one not for wallflowers either, but more geared for the women—the opinionated, art and culture-loving women—that are known to wear Pleats Please fashions and embrace no-holds-barred style statements.

Pleats Please, like the fashion designs that inspired it, is precise and sharp, carefully constructed and feminine-loving. The perfumer Aurélien Guichard (of Angel The Taste Fragrance, Comme des Garcons Play, Diane by Diane von Furstenberg and Madly Kenzo fame) refers to “the verticality” of the fragrance: He equates its form with the physical structure of Miyake’s iconic pleats. He speaks of flow and movement: indeed this scent comes across as a swirling, whirling blast of flowers.

Guichard also stayed true to Miyake’s avant-garde inclinations: Pleats Please forgoes the traditional perfume structure of top, middle and base notes and instead delivers a scent that stays consistent on the skin over time. Peony and sweet pea and narcotic indole, combine with flashes of cedar, white patchouli, creamy vanilla and white musk. Nashi pear, a fruit that epitomizes Miyake’s East-meets-West design attitude, is another key ingredient. It brings the bright essence of both pear and apple to this long-lasting spritz.

The Pleats Please bottle also deserves mention. It just wouldn’t be right, after all, for this perfume to reside in any old ordinary vessel. How about an abstract, polyhedron with a white opaque cap shaped like a just-opening flower calyx?
A lovely piece of light-reflecting perfume sculpture (and metaphor!), all the better appreciated by the pink-tinged hue of the juice itself, which shows off the flask’s many asymmetrical glass faces and facets. The bottle also makes more than a passing nod to Miyake’s shape-shifting Bao Bag design in its celebration of form and function.

Issey Miyake Parfums Pleats Please EDT, $106 (100 ml), www.isseymiyakeparfums.com; www.thebay.com

Renowned shooter Nick Knight captures the fluidity, modernity and optimism in the campaign for Miyake’s Pleats Please spritz. Watch “the making of” video here.

View the Pleats Please commercial: “…a scent that pays homage to a influential fashion creation: an infusion of emotion and olfactory ode to joy,” says the house. Click here.

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Deborah Fulsang has spent the last two decades as a journalist covering news and trends in the worlds of style—in fashion and beauty, design and décor, food and entertaining. Her long-held love of fragrance led her to launch The Whale & The Rose, a destination for all things perfume-related. Now, when she indulges in a crazy-expensive bottle of fragrance, she can do so guilt-free. Well almost. It’s all in the name of research after all.