Legendary, Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake dies of cancer at 84
Miyake's funeral had already taken place, with "only relatives participating" in line with his wishes
Legendary, Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, who is known for his boldly sculpted pleated pieces as well as former Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ black turtlenecks, passed away on August 5 due to liver cancer, according to an employee at his office in Tokyo. He was 84.
"He died on the evening of August 5," she was quoted as saying by media sources. Issey's funeral had already taken place, with "only relatives participating" in line with his wishes, and there were no plans for a public ceremony, she added.
Issey, whose global career spanned more than half a century, defined an era in Japan’s modern history, reaching stardom in the 1970s among a generation of designers and artistes who reached global fame by defining a Japanese vision that was unique from the West.
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He pioneered high-tech, comfortable clothing, side-stepping the grandiosity of haute couture in favour of what he called simply "making things". Miyake’s origami-like pleats transformed usually crass polyester into chic. He also used computer technology in weaving to create apparel. His down-to-earth clothing was meant to celebrate the human body regardless of race, build, size or age.
Miyake was also a pioneer in gender roles, asking feminist Fusae Ichikawa in the 1970s — when she was in her 80s — to be his model, sending the message that garments must be comfortable and express the natural beauty of real people.
Miyake even detested being called a fashion designer, choosing not to identify with what he saw as a frivolous, trend-watching, conspicuous consumption.
Again and again, Miyake returned to his basic concept of starting with a single piece of cloth — be it draped, folded, cut or wrapped. Over the years, he took inspiration from a variety of cultures and societal motifs, as well as everyday items — plastic, rattan, “washi” paper, jute, horsehair, foil, yarn, batik, indigo dyes and wiring.
Born in Hiroshima in 1938, Issey was just seven years old when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city in August 1945, reports stated. He survived the blast, which killed an estimated 1,40,000 people on impact and led to the end of World War II after the bombing of Nagasaki three days later.
He established the Miyake Design Studio in Tokyo in 1970 and opened his first Paris boutique soon after that. By the 1980s, his career was in full swing as he experimented with materials from plastic to metal wire and even artisanal Japanese paper.
*With inputs from AFP and AP