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Issey Miyake, New York, 1988 | Photograph by Irving Penn | © The Irving Penn Foundation.

Issey Miyake was a Japanese fashion designer who left a lasting impact on the fashion world with his innovative and unconventional designs. Over the years, he has gained recognition and admiration for his unique and avant-garde creations that blur the boundaries between art, technology and fashion.

Miyake died of liver cancer on 5 August 2022, at the age of 84.

Born in Hiroshima, Japan in 1938, Miyake began his fashion career in the 1960s and has since become known for his avant-garde and futuristic designs. With a focus on the intersection of technology and fashion, Miyake has revolutionized the way we think about clothing, creating pieces that are not only beautiful, but also functional and sustainable. Despite this difficult upbringing, Miyake developed an early fascination with design and creativity, leading him to study graphic design at the Tama Art University in Tokyo. After graduation, he worked for several years in Paris, where he honed his skills and developed a deep appreciation for the artistry of haute couture.

In the 1970s, Miyake returned to Japan and founded his own fashion house, which quickly became known for its innovative approach to design. His first collection, launched in 1971, featured unstructured and flowing garments made from natural materials such as cotton and silk. Miyake’s designs were characterized by their simplicity, elegance, and versatility, and soon caught the attention of fashion critics and industry insiders around the world.

In a 2015 article for Vogue, journalist Luke Leitch described Miyake’s designs as “a study in geometry and form.” He noted that Miyake’s creations were often based on mathematical principles, with intricate patterns and shapes that reflected the designer’s fascination with architecture and technology. Leitch also highlighted Miyake’s pioneering use of pleats, which became a signature feature of many of his designs. According to Leitch, Miyake’s pleats were “a testament to the designer’s skill and creativity,” and helped to create a unique visual language that set his work apart from that of his contemporaries.

One of Miyake’s most recognizable and iconic designs is his “A-POC” (A Piece of Cloth) line. This line was created using a single piece of fabric that was cut and folded in such a way as to create multiple pieces of clothing, including a dress, a skirt, and even a bag. This innovative approach to fashion design not only saved time and resources, but it also allowed for versatile, multi-functional clothing that could be transformed and worn in different ways.

Miyake’s commitment to innovation and experimentation has remained a hallmark of his career. In a 2018 interview with WWD, Miyake explained that he is constantly seeking new challenges and pushing himself to explore new ideas. “I am interested in everything,” he said. “I am always thinking about what is next, what is new, what is different.” This dedication to exploration and discovery has led Miyake to work with a wide range of materials and techniques over the years, from high-tech fabrics to traditional Japanese textiles.

Miyake’s influence on the world of fashion cannot be overstated. His designs have been worn by countless celebrities and style icons, and his work has been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions around the world. In a 2018 article for WWD, journalist Emily Mercer noted that Miyake’s impact extends far beyond the world of fashion. She observed that his designs “blur the lines between art, design, and fashion,” and that his work has had a profound influence on contemporary culture as a whole.

Issey Miyake was a visionary and a true icon not just in fashion and design but in the way he approached life and the world around him. His innovative designs, focus on sustainability, and beautiful pieces earned him a place in the annals of fashion history. He continues to inspire and influence designers and fashion lovers around the world, and his legacy will undoubtedly continue for generations to come.


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