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A Cheat Sheet On Issey Miyake
Remembering a five-decade-long career of the legendary Japanese designer and his most iconic creatio...
Feature 15 Aug 2022

Remembering a five-decade-long career of the legendary Japanese designer and his most iconic creations.

One of the biggest names in fashion, the legendary Japanese designer, Issey Miake, has passed away at the age of 84 after a battle with cancer, leaving behind a legacy.
He became famous for his iconic pleats, innovative cuts of artistic value, avant-garde exhibitions and signature fragrances. Let’s see some facts and creations he will be remembered for as a true inspiration:

Issey Miyake survived the nuclear attack on Hiroshima

Issey Miyake, originally named Miyake Kazumaru, was born in Hiroshima, Japan, in 1938. He survived the nuclear attack on Hiroshima at just seven years old. His mother didn’t share the same faith and passed away three years later from radiation exposure. This was an impetus for him to create and focus on expressing positive emotions through his clothing design, such as freedom, beauty and joy.

Original sketch by Issey Miyake, 1965, As a student at the Ecole de la Chambre Syndical de la Couture Parisienne

Issey Miyake became friends with Kenzo Takada in Paris
He studied graphic design at Tokyo’s Tama Art University and following his graduation in 1965 he moved to Paris, not too long after Kenzo Takada’s arrival to the ‘’City of Lights.’’ Miyake and Kenzo had known each other in Tokyo, but they became friends in Paris while studying together at the tailoring and dressmaking school, l’École de la Chambre Syndical de la Couture. In 1982 they created a joint show in Japan.

Miyake started his career as an apprentice for Guy Laroche, Hubert de Givenchy and Geoffrey Beene
In the beginning Miyake worked behind the scenes in the world of fashion. In 1966 was an apprentice for Guy Laroche, two years later for Hubert de Givenchy, and after that he worked in 1969 with the American designer Geoffrey Beene in New York.

In 1970 he founded the Miyake Design Studio
In 1970 Miyake returned to Tokyo where he founded the Miyake Design Studio, followed by success he was already featured in Bloomingdale’s. With the prêt-à-porter being institutionalized for the first time in 1973 he was invited to show alongside other upcoming designers in Paris. He moved on, opened a boutique two years later for his highly wearable avant-garde designs, and continued to show his collections in Paris.

Miyake is the mind behind the micro pleating, invented in the late 1980s
Miyake wanted to revitalize traditional dyeing through new methods that could consider the modern needs. Working with the textile designer Makiko Minagawa and others, contributed to the development of new materials, and techniques to manipulate fabrics into garments. He began to explore in the late 1980s new methods of pleating polyester and in 1993 he introduced his Pleats Please line.

Issey Miyake introduced his “A Piece of Cloth,” or APOC concept in 1997
He was interested in the body shape in relation to the garment as a volume. He continued his quest for new ways to create and design, challenging the Western aesthetics for female clothing, focusing on minimalism and flowing shapes. He introduced loose-fitting pieces such as dresses with straight, simple shapes, and oversized coats which resonated with both genders. His essential benchmark has been the “A Piece of Cloth” introduced in 1997, after extensive research on materials; made out of a single piece of cloth, from a single thread with the help of an industrial machine programmed by a computer.

APOC and new techniques of sewing with reduced waste during Miyake’s creation process
In addition to the APOC project finalized in 2001, new techniques of sewing, such as heat taping and cutting by ultrasound were developed alongside with Dai Fujiwara, reducing waste, as sustainability was always an important factor in Miyake’s creation process. Collaborating with masters of textiles and fabrics, he developed the brand into what it is today.

Miyake wanted to create timeless designs rather than fashion
Issey Miyake has blended art and fashion, but his aim was to create timeless designs rather than trends, always focused on the body’s motion and form, therefore he repeatedly used dancers as runway models. Experimenting with materials and fabrics, including Japanese washi paper and rattan, he often drew inspiration from his home country and paid homage to his origins throughout his career. Today Miyake’s most iconic designs are his micro pleats and the Bao Bao bags in geometric patterns based on origami technique.

Fun fact, the Steve Jobs turtleneck is a Miyake creation
Miyake was Steve Jobs’s favorite designer. The CEO of Apple wanted to create a corporate uniform for himself and stocked his wardrobe with around hundred bespoke black turtlenecks.

Text by Maria Nitulescu

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