Japanese fashion pioneer Issey Miyake dies aged 84

Hiroshima-born Issey Miyake, designer of bags, watches, and perfume, as well as clothes for Steve Jobs and Robin Williams, has died of liver cancer.

Issey Miyake death

Today the fashion world mourns one of its greatest pioneers, Issey Miyake, founder of his own namesake fashion brand, who has passed away at the age of 84 from hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer.

Born in Hiroshima in 1938, Miyake went on to study graphic design at Tama Art University in Tokyo, before migrating to Paris in 1965 to study at the prestigious École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne.

Miyake was seven years old when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima during World War II. The designer was “reluctant” to speak about his survival for some time but wrote an op-ed for The New York Times in 2009 to share his vivid memories.

“I never tried to be defined by my past,” he wrote. “I did not want to be labeled as ‘the designer who survived the atomic bomb,’ and therefore I have always avoided questions about Hiroshima.” Instead, Miyake preferred “to think of things that can be created, not destroyed, and that bring beauty and joy.”

Steve Jobs Issey Miyake

Steve Jobs famously donned Issey Miyake’s black turtle neck sweater for all of his Apple announcement speeches

It was in Paris that Mr Miyake started working with the likes of Guy Laroche, Hubert de Givenchy, and Geoffrey Beene, before launching his own label in 1973. It went on to become one of the most recognised brands in the world, receiving endorsement from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs who favoured Miyake’s iconic turtle neck jumpers. Robin Williams also wore of the label’s bomber jackets to the Flubber premiere in 1997, whilst Miyake’s wares have adorned the shoulders of Grace Jones and Lewis Hamilton.

Mr Miyake was perhaps best known for experimenting with traditional and modern techniques such as fashioning origami-like clothing. He was the first designer ever to introduce pleats after the fabric is cut and sewn, going against the traditional method of pleating first.

In the late 80s, he explored a new way of micro-pleating by wrapping fabrics between layers of paper before pressing them with heat, a method which saw such success that he launched his Pleats Please line.

Miyake has reportedly already had a private funeral and the brand will continue under the creative vision of Satoshi Kondo, who has designed the collections since 2020.


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