Mihara Yasuhiro: Foot Forward

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The last person whose style made an impression on Japanese designer Mihara Yasuhiro was an old lady he spotted in France. "She was walking down the street and her wig was off-center on her head," he explains, via an interpreter. "But somehow, it looked so cool."

As a designer, Yasuhiro's trademark is off-center design, apparel that remixes cultural cues to create new messages. He often explains that his work is about trying to "extend possibilities." His Spring/Summer 2007 collection for Puma, his fourteenth for the sneaker giant since 2000, is full of designs that reflect his ethos, blurring the lines between future and past, high-end and street fashion, reality and surreality. The MY-25–an '80s-styled gold metallic high-top–has rubber molding that recalls both the side of a DJ turntable and punk rockers' studded belts. The MY-23 features a sole and upper that appear to be melting into one another, while the MY-1 Peace, like many Yasuhiro designs, has an inspirational feeling, combining a pattern of stars and stripes with cloud embroidery to create a riot of color and texture. An equal amount of attention has been paid to the soles of the shoes. "I like it when people leave original footsteps behind," says Yasuhiro with a sly smile.

"I always design things to be launched two years in the future," Yasuhiro, 34, explains of his wild creations. "You have to create what people will want to have, instead of what they have now. People always ask me if I have a muse, but I don't design with one person in mind. I like people who challenge themselves and push things further. That's the person I would like to see wearing my sneakers."