The fashion industry is mourning the loss of Japanese designer Issey Miyake, who died on August 5 at the age of 84 in Tokyo from hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of liver cancer, according to a release from Miyake Design Studio and the Issey Miyake Group obtained by WWD. The outlet reported at the time of his death he was “surrounded by close friends and associates.”
Born in Hiroshima in 1938, Miyake was just 7 years old when the city was devastated by an atomic bomb dropped by the United States during WWII. Miyake rarely talked about his childhood, but in 2009 he mentioned to the New York Times that he did not want to be known as “the designer who survived the atomic bomb.”
After graduating with a degree in design from Tama Art University in Tokyo in 1963, he moved to Paris in 1965 and studied at the École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne and worked under fashion luminaries including Guy Laroche and Givenchy. He later moved to New York to work with Geoffrey Beene, and eventually established his own brand, Miyake Design Studio, in Tokyo in 1970. Soon after, he opened his first Paris boutique.
Miyake didn’t consider himself a “fashion designer” but rather a “clothing manufacturer.” He was part of the wave of young Japanese designers who brought a new look to Parisian haute couture in the 1970s. Miyake’s signature style stood out not just in Paris but globally, using precise techniques with practical and comfortable materials like nylon and polyester. He also experimented with unorthodox materials, including plastic, rattan, and wire, in his “Bodyworks” exhibition, which toured internationally from 1983 to 1985.
Miyake was a fashion visionary that never stopped reinventing the wheel. His accomplishments will leave a lasting legacy on the industry, and include developing his innovative and now signature pleating fabric by wrapping it between layers of paper in a heat press, now his Pleats, Please line. He also created “A-POC (A Piece Of Cloth)” concept, which assembled garments out of a single piece of fabric using computer programming to cut whole garments with no seams. Issey Miyake was also the official supplier of the iconic black turtleneck sweaters co-founder of Apple Steve Jobs would almost exclusively wear.
Per the designer’s wishes, there will be no funeral or memorial service; however, fans have taken to social media to share their favorite moments of Issey Miyake’s esteemed career that will undoubtedly leave a lasting legacy for generations to come.