Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake dies at 84 | CBC News

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Issey Miyake, who built one of Japan’s biggest fashion brands and was known for his boldly sculpted pleated pieces, has died. He was 84 years old.

Miyake died Aug. 5 of liver cancer, the Miyake Design Bureau said Tuesday.

Miyake defined an era in modern Japanese history, rising to stardom in the 1970s among a generation of designers and artists who rose to worldwide fame by defining a uniquely Japanese vision of the West.

Miyake’s origami-like folds transformed the usually crude polyester into chic. He also used computer technology in weaving to create garments. His simple clothing was meant to celebrate the human body regardless of race, build, size, or age.

Miyake even loathed being called a fashion designer, choosing not to identify with what he saw as conspicuous consumption, frivolity, and trend-seeking. He was well known as the designer behind the trademark black turtleneck of Apple founder Steve Jobs.

The models wear creations from the Issey Miyake Homme Plisse Spring-Summer 2023 menswear collection, presented in Paris on June 23. (Francois Mori/The Associated Press)

Time and time again, Miyake returned to his basic concept of starting with a single piece of fabric, whether it was draped, folded, cut, or wrapped.

Over the years, he has been inspired by a variety of cultures and social motifs, as well as everyday items: plastic, rattan, “washi” paper, jute, horsehair, foil, yarn, batik, indigo dyes and cabling.

In the late 1980s, he developed a new way of pleating by wrapping fabrics between layers of paper and placing them in a heat press, with the garments maintaining their pleated shape. Tested for his freedom of movement in dancers, this led to the development of his signature line “Pleats, Please”.

A model is seen wearing an extravagant black dress resembling an accordion.
Models display a ‘Pleats Please’ dress as part of Issey Miyake’s Fall-Winter 1995 ready-to-wear collection in Paris on March 7, 1994. (Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images)

Although he made garments that went beyond the mundane and seemed to reach for the spiritual, he made sure to never be pretentious, always approving of the t-shirt and jeans look.

“Design is like a living organism in that it pursues what matters to its well-being and continuity,” Miyake once wrote in his book.

Influenced by the Hiroshima experience

His office confirmed that a private funeral had already been held and no other ceremonies would be held in accordance with Miyake’s wishes. Miyake kept his family life private and there are no known survivors.

Miyake was born in Hiroshima and was seven years old when the atomic bomb fell on the city while he was in a classroom. He was reluctant to talk about the event in his later life. In 2009, writing in the New York Times as part of a campaign for then-US President Barack Obama to visit the city, he said he did not want to be labeled “the designer who survived” the bomb.

More than a dozen female models walk the runway at a fashion show.
Models wear creations for Issey Miyake Spring-Summer 2018 in Paris on September 29, 2017. (Michel Euler/The Associated Press)

“When I close my eyes, I still see things no one should experience,” he wrote, saying that within three years, his mother died from radiation exposure.

“I have tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to leave them behind, preferring to think of things that can be created, not destroyed, and that bring beauty and joy. I gravitated towards the field of clothing design, in part because it is a creative format that is modern and optimistic”.

First seasons with Laroche, Givenchy

After studying graphic design at a Tokyo art university, he learned clothing design in Paris, where he worked with famous fashion designers Guy Laroche and Hubert de Givenchy, before moving to New York. In 1970 he returned to Tokyo and founded the Miyake Design Studio.

Miyake was a star as soon as she hit the European catwalks. Her brown blouse, which combined the Japanese stitched fabric called “sashiko” with raw silk knit, appeared on the cover of the September 1973 issue of Elle magazine.

He was a pioneer in terms of gender roles, asking feminist Fusae Ichikawa in the 1970s, when she was 80 years old, to be his model, sending the message that clothes should be comfortable and express the natural beauty of women. real people.

He eventually developed more than a dozen fashion lines ranging from his main Issey Miyake for men and women to handbags, watches and fragrances before essentially retiring in 1997 to pursue research.

In 1992, Miyake was commissioned to design the official Olympic uniform for Lithuania, which had just gained independence from the Soviet Union.

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