Issey Miyake dies leaving a timeless legacy

His name is better known abroad than the Emperor of Japan. 84-year-old stylist Issey Miyake died of liver cancer on Friday August 5. He was known all over the world for his very graphic clothes and a pleat that has become iconic. He was one of the first Japanese designers to organize a fashion show in Europe. It was in Paris, in 1973.

Issey Miyake has never been afraid to go against trends. He is the inventor of pleated, light, wrinkle-resistant clothing and has revisited Japanese folding, the traditional origami, in an artisanal way. A survivor of the Hiroshima massacre, Issey Miyake will keep from this trauma a desire to build using materials never seen in the world of fashion: wire, raffia or horsehair.

Barely graduated from the Tama University of Fine Arts in Tokyo, the Japanese moved to Paris in 1965, imitating his compatriot Kenzo Takada (1939-2020). The two study at the school of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne and become friends.

Issey Miyake first worked as an apprentice at Guy Laroche then at Givenchy. But his vision of fashion was above all influenced by the student revolt of May 68 in Paris: rather than designing clothes for a privileged few, he decided to invent universal and practical clothes, “like jeans and t-shirts “, he will say later. In 1970, he founded his design studio in Tokyo, and his first boutiques opened a few years later in the Japanese capital and Paris.

Throughout the 1980s, as stores carrying his brand multiplied, Issey Miyake radiated his style by using materials never seen in fashion until then (plastic, wire, Japanese craft paper, horsehair, raffia). . The Japanese art of folding (origami) also inspires him.

With textile researchers and design engineers in his research and development laboratory, he has also created a synthetic fiber from a recycled chemical material, in partnership with a Japanese firm.

“My work has always been a team process (…). You always see things differently when you allow others to be part of a creative process,” he told the New York Times in 2014.

Born on April 22, 1938 in Hiroshima (western Japan), Issey Miyake was seven years old on August 6, 1945 when the United States dropped the first atomic bomb in history on his hometown, killing 140,000 people and traumatizing them for life. the survivors.

“When I close my eyes, I still see things that no one should ever experience: a blinding red light, the black cloud shortly after, people running in all directions desperately trying to escape. I remember all that,” he testified in 2009 to plead for nuclear disarmament.

His mother died three years after the end of the Second World War from radiation caused by the bomb. And he himself endured great physical suffering which handicapped his walk.

He preferred, however, “to think of things that can be created and not destroyed, and which bring beauty and joy”, before realizing belatedly that he had “a personal and moral responsibility” to also express himself on this painful topic.

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