It’s officially proper jacket weather. With their London flagship just opened, Mr Sofarok recently reminded me of the power of Japan’s Descente ski wear, and it seemed timely to focus on one of the most interesting outerwear collaborations ever — Descente and design genius Eiko Ishioka, who redesigned the Houston Rockets logo and created the costumes for Coppola’s Dracula, with Oldman’s blood red armour at the start being one of the coolest outfits in screen history. Ishioka’s team outfits for Canada, Spain, Switzerland and Japan in the 2002 Winter Olympics weren’t just graphically unique, with mad muscle imagery and lists of words across the bodies, but her off-piste cocoon jacket creation, formed from Flashstar foam, was interesting in its attempt to create a wearable refuge for athletes to meditate and stay focused without removing a helmet. At the time, MP3 player integration seemed wildly futuristic, but now it’s just part of so many technical jacket designs.
The most interesting part of the cocoon jacket’s concept is how it explicitly focuses on the psychology of sport. A patent submission from 2002 for Ishioka’s design refers to it as “Garment for Mental Concentration” and reads, “Recently, there is a common understanding that if the sports player plays own event soon after the warming up, it results in undesirable performance. It is recognized that a time for mental concentration to imagine a course and to allocate a pace is needed between the warming up and the event.” Shape, adjustable temperature, humidity levels and music were all key considerations, and while Canada was one of the only sponsored sides to achieve any significant success during the event, at least they had an experimental portable refuge to take home as a souvenir.
It might seem madcap, but this Descente design’s sense of synergy and serious approach to the mental state of an athlete beyond the obvious physicality makes it an important part of Ishioka’s legendary body of work. I think there’s something in the notion of the coat as a sanctuary in an increasingly busy world.
On another topic, 1979’s Over the Edge is one of the best teen films ever (we know Kurt Cobain agreed) and this original script has appeared on eBay. I knew that the fictional antics of the kids of New Granada were themed on the article Mousepacks: Kids on a Crime Spree article from the San Francisco Examiner, but I had no idea that the original working title was Mousepacks.