Breaking Fashion News: Sayonara Issey Miyake

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Iconic Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake has died.  Often thought of as the Asia designer who opened the proverbial fashion door for Asian designers, Miyake was known for his origami-like designers that featured pleated skirts, dresses and pants that facilitated more freedom of movement.

Issey Miyake was one of the first designers who thought of clothes as pieces of design art and from that conception he collaborated with many architects and photographers. Miyake was one of the first designers to appear on the cover of Art Forum, unheard in 1982 and do have in fashion designs in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. He was also the first Japanese designer to present a collection during Paris Fashion Week. And this showing in Paris opened the doors for other Japanese fashion designers, namely Yohji Yamamoto, Junka Watanabe, and Rei Kawakubo.

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Miyake is best known for his micro pleating which he began experimenting with around 1988. His micro pleating design aesthetic enjoyed a huge popularity among younger consumers and new consumers to this new direction in fashion.

His Pleats Please line, launched in 1993 contained garments that had no zippers, buttons, or snaps. There were no delineated waistlines or armholes and could be easily slipped into, requiring very few underpinnings. The garments ranged in color from blue, green and crimson—or fabrics printed with flowers or tattoos. Issey Miyake also used a proprietary heating system that facilitated his garments never losing their shape and never wrinkled.

Issey Miyake’s Bao Bao bag was also a very popular item. The Bao Bao bag is made from mesh fabric layered with small colorful triangles of polyvinyl, has long been an accessory of choice for creative industries. 

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Issey Miyake was born in 1938 and walked with a noticeable limp, the result of being of radiation poisoning—that caused bone marrow disease—of the Hiroshima bombing in his hometown. He graduated with a degree in design from Tama Art University in Tokyo in 1963. While living in Paris he worked as an assistant to Guy La Roche and Hubert de Givenchy.

After working in New York, Miyake founded the Miyake Design Studio in Tokyo in 1970. Miyake did not see himself as a fashion designer because as he stated, “Anything that’s ‘in fashion’ goes out of style too quickly … I don’t make fashion. I make clothes.” 

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“I am most interested in people and the human form,” Mr. Miyake told The Times in 2014. “Clothing is the closest thing to all humans.”

Issey Miyake died on August 9 of liver cancer.

—William S. Gooch

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