Issey Miyake was born on April 22, 1938, in Hiroshima, Japan. In the 1960s, he designed for Givenchy in Paris, after which he designed for Geoffrey Bean in Manhattan. In 1970, Miyake started his own design studio. During the 1970s, he toyed with avant-garde Eastern designs. In the 1980s, he began using technology new East meets West textiles. He started Pleats Please in 1993 and A Piece Of Cloth in 1999.
Issey Miyake, original name Miyake Kazumaru, is a Japanese fashion designer best known for combining Eastern and Western elements in his work.
Miyake studied graphic design at Tokyo’s Tama Art University, and after graduation he moved in 1965 to Paris, where he enrolled at the renowned tailoring and dressmaking school École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. He began his career in 1966, working behind the scenes for four years in ateliers operated by a trio of 20th-century fashion legends—French couturiers Guy Laroche and Hubert de Givenchy as well as the meticulous American designer Geoffrey Beene. In 1973, three years after he established a Tokyo studio, Miyake displayed his own independent collection in a Paris group fashion show and developed the layered and wrapped look that became his trademark.
Tokyo Design Studio
Soon the New York department store Bloomingdale’s devoted a section to selling Miyake’s “East meets West” look—mostly T-shirts dyed with Japanese tattoodesigns as well as coats featuring the sashiko technique, a Japanese embroidery that strengthens fabric and was typically incorporated into labourers’ clothing. Miyake became an internationally recognized name in the 1980s together with Japanese designers Rei Kawakuba and Yohji Yamamoto, who presented their avant-garde creations alongside his fresh, boldly coloured work during the Paris ready-to-wear collections.
In the late 1980s, he began to experiment with new methods of pleating that would allow both flexibility of movement for the wearer as well as ease of care and production. In which the garments are cut and sewn first, then sandwiched between layers of paper and fed into a heat press, where they are pleated. The fabric’s ‘memory’ holds the pleats and when the garments are liberated from their paper cocoon, they are ready-to wear.
He also developed a friendship with Apple’s Steve Jobs and produced the black turtlenecks which would become a part of Jobs’ signature attire. Jobs said, “So I asked Issey to make me some of his black turtlenecks that I liked, and he made me like a hundred of them.”
In 2005 the Japan Arts Association awarded Miyake a Praemium Imperiale for outstanding achievement in the arts. In 2006 he became the first fashion designer to receive the Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy for lifetime achievement, awarded by the Inamori Foundation in Japan; the prize included a diploma, a 20-karat-gold prize medal, and 50 million yen (about $446,000). The organization singled out as seminal the clothing line Miyake developed in 1993 called Pleats Please, which “allows unrestricted body movement while enabling the fabric to maintain its form,” and A-POC (“A Piece of Cloth”), which was made from a single thread with the aid of an industrial knitting or weaving machine programmed by a computer. Miyake had begun experimenting on A-POC more than 10 years earlier with textile expert Dai Fujiwara before launching it commercially in 1999. Insisting that A-POC was an ensemble piece, he refused to imprint his name on that collection. He sold it simply as a long tube of jersey, and it was then up to the customer to cut and shape it.
In 1994 and 1999, Miyake turned over the design of the men’s and women’s collections respectively, to his associate, Naoki Takizawa, so that he could return to research full-time. In 2007, Naoki Takizawa opened his own brand, supported by the Issey Miyake Group and was replaced, as a Creative Director of the House of Issey Miyake, by Dai Fujiwara.
As of 2012, he is one of the co-Directors of 21 21 DESIGN SIGHT, Japan’s first design museum.
East Meets West by Issey Miyake
ISSEY MIYAKE East Meets West
[Heibonsha Limited, Publishers, Tokyo]
PLEATS PLEASE ISSEY MIYAKE