This morning, it was announced that legendary Japanese designer, Issey Miyake, has passed away at the age of 84 after a battle with cancer. One of the biggest names in fashion, the designer was at the forefront of bringing Japanese fashion and design to the masses, alongside the likes of Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto, to name just a couple. Spanning two centuries, Miyake’s design legacy lives on in his multiple brands, extensive fashion and design research, as well through his dedication to clothes that perform elevated functionality.
The designer survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima at seven years old, but was determined to not make that a defining feature of his career and life’s work. Instead, Miyake focused on honing his artistic skills and studied graphic design in Tokyo, before heading to Paris to learn about clothing design. Originally wanting to become a dancer, Miyake’s sister’s fashion magazines are said to have inspired him to go into fashion and focus on the art of movement more specifically.
In Paris, he worked with Hubert de Givenchy who taught him the fundamentals of luxury fashion, before returning to Tokyo in 1970 and founding the Miyake design studio – the rest is history. You cannot think of Issey Miyake without thinking of pleats – a signature that the designer first developed in the late 1980s, which continues to inform his brand image and collections.
The famous pleats were created with a new technique, which as Reuters reports, consisted of ‘wrapping fabrics between layers of paper and putting them into a heat press, with the garments holding their pleated shape. Tested for their freedom of movement on dancers, this led to the development of his signature “Pleats, Please” line’.
Eventually he developed more than a dozen fashion lines. One of these is HOMME PLISSÉ ISSEY MIYAKE – who’s recent show in Paris saw pleats-clad dancers appear making their way down scaffolding, climbing on each other’s shoulders to walk the runway – in three-man-tall structures. What followed was a dance performance which saw Issey’s models run, leap and fall across the space in varying degrees of intensity.
With any of Issey Miyake’s lines, you know you’re going to get a solid and successful collection of the iconic pleats. But his emphasis on freedom of movement, functionality and comfort was never minimised: pushing beyond the parameters of traditional fashion, Issey Miyake’s genius was in his ability to produce and demonstrate the garments as they were intended: in movement, fluid, and to be celebrated. Rest in Peace.
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