Issey Miyake, the influential Japanese fashion designer known for his pleated style creations and Steve Job’s signature black turtleneck, died of liver cancer at 84 years old on Friday.
A private funeral service was held with his friends and family, his office stated. Per Miyake’s wishes, a memorial ceremony will not be held.
Born in Hiroshima, Japan, the designer was 7 years old when the atomic bomb dropped in 1945. His mother died three years later from radiation exposure, and he was left with a limp that followed him through adulthood. Miyake never revealed this part of his childhood until 2009, as he was determined not to be known as the designer who escaped the atomic bomb.
“When I close my eyes, I still see things no one should ever experience,” Miyake wrote in a New York Times piece. “I have tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to put them behind me, preferring to think of things that can be created, not destroyed, and that brings beauty and joy. I gravitated towards the field of clothing design, partly because it is a creative format that is modern and optimistic.”
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Miyake moved to Paris in 1965 and attended École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, a school well-known for tailoring and dressmaking. While in Paris, he worked with two of the biggest fashion names in haute couture: Guy Laroche and Hubert de Givenchy.
In 1970, Miyake opened his own studio in Tokyo where he used Japanese embroidery techniques and tattoo-inspired designs. He rose to fame in the 1980s after designing a new type of pleated fabric that kept its shape and eventually developed his signature line, Pleats, Please.
The designer’s iconic pleat designs have been worn by many celebrities, including Doja Cat, Celine Dion and Solange Knowles. In addition, Miyake found a lifelong customer in Apple’s founder Steve Jobs, having designed his signature black turtleneck.
“I asked Issey to make me some of his black turtlenecks that I liked, and he made me like a hundred of them. I have enough to last for the rest of my life,” Jobs was quoted as saying in Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography “Steve Jobs.”
Miyake would go on to design several other fashion lines that included bags, watches and fragrances.
The Bao Bao Issey Miyake bag line has been popular in recent years for its unique geometric design and futuristic inspirations. The bags also take into consideration the possibility of damage or wear, allowing individual triangular pieces to be replaced rather than replacing the entire bag.
Miyake’s first fragrance line, L’Eau d’Issey, launched in 1992 and became an international bestseller. The iconic fragrance was inspired by water, with “L’eau” being French for “water.”
He retired in 1997 to focus on research but he continued to innovate. In 2007, he launched Reality Lab to research durable and environmentally sustainable materials.
The designer received several awards for his work in fashion, including the Praemium Imperiale award in 2005 from the Japan Arts Association and the prestigious Legion of Honor from the French government in 2016.
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