Revolutionary Japanese designer Issey Miyake, renowned for his boldly sculpted pleated pieces sadly passed away In Tokyo after a long battle with Cancer on August 5th, 2022.

Designer Issey Miyake during Paris Fashion Week circa 1993 in Paris. Credit PL Gould/Images/Getty Images

In a death that is causing ripples within the world of fashion, Issey Miyake passed away on August 5th after a long battle with liver cancer. In a short statement by The Issey Miyake Group, they describe the designer as “surrounded by close friends and associates” at the time of his death.

The statement continues to express Miyake’s true nature and passion for his work saying;

“Miyake’s dynamic spirit was driven by a relentless curiosity and desire to convey joy through the medium of design… he never once step back from his love, the process of making things.”

 Reflecting on a Legacy

Credit: FishInk

Renowned for his innovative pleating techniques Issey Miyake pioneered new ways of incorporating artisanal skills with technology-driven ideas. Autumn winter 1973 arose a legacy, resulting in the debut of his first collection in New York. Miyake’s designs frequently focus on the theme of “A Piece of Cloth”.

According to the designer’s official website, Miyake seamlessly broke barriers between the East and West, saying,  “the body, the fabric covering it, and a comfortable relationship between both” as a fundamental concept, responsible for captivating audiences worldwide.

Ready to wear, Fall -Winter 97 -98 In Paris, France On March 11, 1997 – Issey Miyake. Credit Daniel SIMON/Gamma-Rapho | Credit: Paper Magazine

As we reflect on a legacy he left behind, we acknowledge the work of Issey Miyake that transcends generations. As a philosopher and anthropologist, it’s intrinsic that naturally, his designs stylistically reflect his life experiences.

Miyake’s determination not to allow the Hiroshima bombing tragedy to impact his work helped him to push the creative boundaries of design. He went on to become a true innovator in the world of fashion. In an Essay by The New York Times, the Japanese designer says;

 “I prefer to think of things that can be created, not destroyed, and that bring beauty and joy,”

Memorialising Miyake

PARIS, FRANCE – MARCH: Issy Miyake And Top Models At Ready To Wear Fall Winter 1993 1994 Show, Paris, March 1993. (Photo by Daniel SIMON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images) | Credit: CBS News

In the 2002 documentary “Issey Miyake Moves” by Setsuko Miura, follows Issey Miyake’s design studio and factory as well as showcasing his work. Miyake expresses how his designs “must contain life and be energized with living”. Through the documentary, Miyake elaborates as he says;

“Design stems from reflecting and challenging the times we live in. Why bother designing unless you have a unique point of view. But design has to be accepted. Unless design can awaken a sense of beauty, of joy, or of wonder, you cannot establish a relationship with your public. ”

Issey Miyake’s career arguable reaches a defining pinnacle as the birth of his unique pleating style surfaced in the 1980s. Miyake explored this idea of the body’s motions and forms, by designing garments from materials and mediums other than cloth.

In an article by Hypebeast, such methods include “fabric placed between paper and heat pressed”. Because of this, “the clothing was able to hold its intriguing boxy shapes for a lifetime”. Such unconventional and authentic original approaches can be credited to Issey Miyake’s time spent studying graphic design at Tama Art University in Tokyo.

Miyake’s Spirit of Joy

Issey Miyake avec deux mannequins au defile de mode Pret-a-Porter Automne-Hiver le 21 mars 1985 a Paris, France. Credit Daniel SIMON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

During this time we saw Miyake generate new ideas and clothes that timelessly transcended generations. In 1981 he introduced the brand Plantation, which “offered clothing that could be worn regardless of gender, age, or body shape”.

The use of natural materials and design is not only simple and loose. It is also easy to care for. It is no surprise that much of Issey Miyake’s work remains so popular today.

“He continued to work with his teams, creating new designs and supervising all collections under the various Issey Miyake labels. His spirit of joy, empowerment and beauty will be carried on by the next generations.”

Says the official statement issued by The Miyake Design Studio and Issey Miyake Group. Their touching sentiment cements Issey Miyake’s work in the world of fashion. He is a man that leaves a legacy of innovative and creative designs behind – as the fashion industry mourns the loss of an icon.

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