Legendary Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake has died from liver cancer at the age of 84. The Hiroshima-born, Tokyo-based creative icon – who launched his namesake label in New York in 1970 – was famed for his innovative and technological approach to fashion design, which married precise, industrial techniques with poeticism. His garments were beloved by members of the creative industries, viewed often as the unofficial uniform of architects and graphic designers. Miyake’s most famous client was Steve Jobs; he created the black polo-neck the Apple founder wore with jeans day in, day out.
Photo: Colin Dodgson
Miyake, who cut his teeth in the ateliers of Guy Laroche and Hubert de Givenchy, was most famous for his revolutionary approach to fabric design. In the ’90s, he showcased his Pleats Please line, comprised of crease-free, shape-retaining garments creating using a heated pleating machine. He also debuted his APOC, or A Piece of Cloth, concept: an edit of machine-made garments using a knit fabric that was pre-fused with clothing patterns. He was a pioneer of the art-fashion collaboration, and worked with a number of artists, including Nobuyoshi Araki, on guest-designed collections. Today, Miyake’s signature fragrance, L’Eau D’Issey, is still considered an olfactory icon.
After years creating breathtaking designs on the runway, Miyake stepped back from the fashion industry in 1997. Today, the brands that exist as part of his namesake group are still steeped in innovation and experimentation, debuting game-changing garment-making techniques each season. The power of Miyake’s utterly precise and architectural approach to design is that it simultaneously imbues its wearer with lightness and joy.