Issey Miyake, the avant-garde Japanese designer, has died at the age of 84, it was revealed this morning. Since his first collection for Fall 1971, Miyake pioneered the development of new materials and techniques to make clothes which move in harmony with the human form, also collaborating with an array of artists, dancers and makers across his career.
Born Miyake Kazumaru in Hiroshima, Japan, Miyake originally wanted to be a dancer. This love of human movement would infiltrate his work as a fashion designer. He launched the Miyake Design Studio in 1970 after a period of studying at the prestigious Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne School in France, where he also worked as an apprentice to Guy Laroche and Hubert de Givenchy, before living in New York where he became inspired by the workings of the post-modernist art circle. Pioneering fashion and art collaborations which are now the norm, his debut collection featured graphic tattoo prints by Makiko Minagawa of the musicians Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrex. In 2000, the designer would work with the artist Yayoi Kusama. Also a co-director of Japan's first design museum, Miyake always had a hand in many pies, from fashion to art to perfume, launching L'EAU D'ISSEY, in 1992.
At the heart of the brand, lies Miyake's concept of 'A Piece of Cloth' (APC). Researching a single thread to create original materials, aided by industrial knitting and weaving machines, Miyake's APC concept birthed the iconic line of clothing Pleats Please in 1993. Clothes are cut, then sewn and pleated (rather than pleated first), to maintain their razor sharp pleats. A symbiosis of fabric with the body, Issey Miyake clothes are made to undulate in harmony with the human form.
Although Miyake handed over the design reigns for his fashion brand in the mid 90s, Issey Miyake fashion shows and advertising campaigns today continue to be shaped by the choreographed dance routines which best show the gravity-defying lightness to Miyake's clothes. An inherent wearability makes Issey Miyake a go-to uniform for many creatives and designers; even the late Apple founder Steve Jobs turned to their designer for their turtleneck sweaters. It is perhaps Miyake himself who best summed up his legacy, when he told the International Herald Tribune in 1992, 'Design is not for philosophy, it's for life.'