Remembering Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake

·3-min read

From patented pleats to Steve Jobs’ signature black turtleneck, designer Issey Miyake transformed Japan’s fashion scene. The news of his demise at the age of 84 years has us reminiscing about his greatest hits.

Miyake was suffering from cancer and passed away at an age of 84 on August 5. The news of his demise reached the international media today after public broadcaster NHK and other Japanese media organizations reported the same. Born in 1938 in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, and was just 7 years old when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city in August 1945. However, in later interviews, he asserted that he did not want to be known as the ‘designer who survived the bomb’. He graduated from Tama Art University and made his way to France for further studies.

In Paris, he honed his skills under the guidance of designers like Hubert de Givenchy and Guy Laroche. It was under Givenchy that he gained experience in working with traditional haute couture techniques that would later make him one of the most influential designers in Europe alongside Japanese contemporaries – Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto. These three designers changed the face of Japanese fashion in the west in the 70s and Miyake’s contribution can be seen in many forms.

The rise of Miyake’s career trajectory can be traced to his use of experimental materials like plastic, metal wire, and artisanal paper in the 1980s. Two signature design styles can be credited to the Japanese designer, Issey Miyake. The first is his wrinkled Pleats Please collection, which has become the brand’s most recognisable style. Launched in 1989, the micro-pleating or plissé became the core of the brand and also formed the bottle of his iconic fragrance by the same name. Prior to this, the designer built the brand on the premise that the body should determine the folds of the clothes and not the reverse. This ideology of creating clothes that perfectly wrap around the body made him a global sensation.

Over the years, the designer also built his empire on his fragrances, his most iconic creation being the L’Eau d’Issey, an aquatic floral fragrance that was launched in 1992. The fragrance represents the scent of water on a woman’s skin and was an antidote to the heady scents of that era. The light and fresh fragrance became a symbol of a woman’s expression of her own self and scent.

The innovative designer, Issey Miyake can also be credited with one of the most humble item of clothing as well, aka the black turtleneck worn by the deceased Apple founder, Steve Jobs. He is said to have created over 500 pieces for the tech guru after he took a liking to the black and denim uniform worn by Microsoft employees. The designer lived a full and robust life and leaves behind a legacy that will not be forgotten.


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