Written by Alice Porter
Trailblazing fashion designer Issey Miyake, known for his iconic collection Pleats Please, has died.
The experimental Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, who is known for his famous pleated clothing and innovative takes on loose-fitting silhouettes in the world of womenswear, has died aged 84 of liver cancer.
In his early life, Miyake is thought to have had aspirations to become a dancer or an athlete but found his interests turn to fashion when he discovered his sister’s collection of magazines. The designer is well-known for creating Steve Jobs’ iconic turtleneck jumpers and his global fashion brand, which he founded in the 1970s, has consistently challenged western beliefs about fashion, snubbing the idea that female clothes should be designed only to fit the contours of the body and advocating for oversized, genderless fits.
Miyake was born in Hiroshima in 1938 and was only seven years old when the city was hit by an atomic bomb. He wrote in the New York Times in 2009 that he didn’t want to be thought of as “the designer who survived the atomic bomb”.
Having studied graphic design at a Tokyo art university, Miyake moved to Paris in the 1960s with the aim of developing his eponymous fashion brand. There, he worked with designers including Guy Laroche and Hubert de Givenchy.
His most commercially successful collection, Pleats Please, was launched in 1993, in which Miyake experimented with the process of pressing pleats onto an item, wrapping fabrics between layers of paper and putting them into a heat press. This meant the garments could be washed and dried without losing their distinctive shape and is a technique used in his designs to this day.
Miyake was also revolutionary in his approach to fabrics, working with materials including plastic and metal, as well as traditional Japanese paper to design his collections.
His fashion line went on to span womenswear, menswear, accessories and fragrance, although Miyake essentially retired in 1997 to focus on research.
A private funeral for Miyake has already taken place, according to Japanese media. His namesake fashion brand released the following statement:
“Never one to embrace trends, Miyake’s dynamic spirit was driven by a relentless curiosity and desire to convey joy through the medium of design. Always a pioneer, Miyake both embraced traditional handcrafts but also looked to the next solution: the newest technology driven by research and development.”
“He never once stepped back from his love, the process of making things. He continued to work with his teams, creating new designs and supervising all collections under the various Issey Miyake labels. His spirit of joy, empowerment and beauty will be carried on by the next generations.”
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