issey miyake

Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake dead at 84

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

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

Miyake defined an era in Japan’s modern history, reaching stardom in the 1970s among a generation of designers and artists who reached global fame by defining a Japanese vision that was unique from the West.

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

Miyake even detested being called a fashion designer, choosing not to identify with what he saw as a frivolous, trend-watching, conspicuous consumption. He was well-known as the designer behind Apple founder Steve Jobs’s trademark black turtleneck.

Male models, including some standing on the shoulders of other models, are shown in garments of several colours.
Models wear creations that are part of Issey Miyake Homme Plisse men’s Spring-Summer 2023 collection, shown in Paris on June 23. (Francois Mori/The Associated Press)

Again and again, Miyake returned to his basic concept of starting with a single piece of cloth — be it draped, folded, cut or wrapped.

Over the years, he took inspiration from a variety of cultures and societal motifs, as well as everyday items — plastic, rattan, “washi” paper, jute, horsehair, foil, yarn, batik, indigo dyes and wiring.

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

A fashion model is seen in an extravagant, accordion-like black dress.
Models display a ‘Pleats Please’ dress as part of the Issey Miyake Autumn-Winter 1995 ready-to-wear collection in Paris on March 7, 1994.
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  • September 16, 2022