Visionary Designer Issey Miyake Has Died

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Issey Miyake Spring/Summer 1999
Issey Miyake Spring/Summer 1999

The celebrated Japanese designer has passed away of cancer, aged 84

This morning it was announced that pioneering Japanese fashion designer and artist Issey Miyake had passed away aged 84. The designer, known for his Pleats, Please range and for his poetic, liberating designs reportedly died of liver cancer on 5 August, according to Kyodo News.

Born in Hiroshima, Miyake was just seven years old, cycling to school, when the Americans dropped an atomic bomb on his city. He lost much of his family, including his mother who died of radiation exposure, and just three years later, Miyake developed bone marrow disease as a result. But it was in Hiroshima where Miyake discovered his love for fashion design, attributing it to gazing through shop windows in his youth.

After studying graphic design at Tama Art University in Tokyo, Miyake arrived in Paris in 1965 to enrol in famed fashion college Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. After graduating, Miyake worked under Guy Laroche, then Givenchy, but eventually moved back to Tokyo due to the heavy traditions of Europe’s culture. By 1970, he’d set up his design studio, where he continued to work for the rest of his life, despite showing collections in Paris and New York.

It was 1988 when Issey Miyake developed a new way of pleating by wrapping fabrics between layers of paper and pressing them with heat, spurring the start of his diffusion line, Pleats, Please. It was cheaper, easier to care for, and importantly it was adaptable for everyday life, forming a uniform for countless people around the world. The designs resisted fashion, forming its own codes and motifs that felt genuine to the designer himself.

Importantly the designs were wearable. His motivation was to liberate the men and women in his life. “I want women to be able to wear my clothes in the kitchen, when they’re pregnant,” Miyake told AnOther's editor-in-chief Susannah Frankel for The Guardian Weekend in July 1997. “My clothes are for the young, for the old, for the short, for the tall. They’re ageless. You see?”