The iconic Japanese designer has passed away from liver cancer. He was 84 …
Another seminal fashion figure, iconic designer Issey Miyake, has sadly passed away. The Japanese designer died on Friday from hepatocellular carcinoma, a form of liver cancer, according to news reports. He was 84.
Originally wishing to be a dancer, or an athlete, Miyake established his design studio in 1970 and, although he originally began by making menswear, his womens’ ready-to-wear collections soon thrived, thanks to a unique combination of classic elegance, future-thinking and technical brilliance.
Above all, the designer was celebrated for his innovative use of technique: in the 1980s he reinvented the Fortuny pleat, designing it to remain crisp and polished, but also allowing it to move with the body. Miraculously, it was also crease-free. This was the birth of Pleats, Please a collection that became synonymous with the Miyake brand.
Speaking of the designer’s passing, Northern Irish designer Jonathan Anderson has described him as “a designer that changed fashion and someone I looked up to so much. What he did for craft and technology changed the way we look at fashion”.
Main image: Models backstage at the Issey Miyake spring summer 2017 catwalk show. Credit: Jason Lloyd Evans
Miyake trained with some of fashion’s greatest and most influential, including Hubert de Givenchy and Guy Laroche in Paris in the 1960s. Cultural identity was always a key part of the Miyake narrative. “I realised that my very disadvantage, lack of western heritage, would also be my advantage. I was free of Western tradition or convention … The lack of western tradition was the very thing I needed to create contemporary and universal fashion,” he said.
His influence expanded far beyond fashion, however. Miyake was the reason why Apple co-founder Steve Jobs always wore a black turtleneck; the designer apparently made over 100 for the tech magnate. Most strikingly, Miyake is a survivor of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima, his birthplace, in 1945; he was just seven and in class at the time. The designer didn’t speak about his experiences until 2009, when he wrote a feature for the New York Times in support of Obama’s pledge for nuclear disarmament.
“Issey Miyake once said, ‘The core spirit of Pleats, Please is joy, and what better emotion to wear on your skin every day?’ I’ve admired several women who wore Issey Miyake religiously, in the process cultivating an artistic allure and their own style credentials. Transcending trends, his clothes were like his best-selling fragrance L’Eau d’Issey – timeless, fresh and elegant,” says Penny McCormick, Deputy Editor of THE GLOSS.
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