‘His designs were almost paintings’


NOS Newstoday, 15:42

Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake has died aged 84. The designer was known for his pleated designs and his scent L’Eau d’Issey. Another famous design by Miyake’s hand was the black turtleneck sweater worn by Steve Jobs, a friend of his.

In the 1970s, he was one of the first Asian designers to break through in the fashion world, which was dominated by Europeans at the time. His designs stood out for the use of both old Japanese techniques and innovative industrial methods.

Traditional techniques

Miyake was born in 1938 in the Japanese city of Hiroshima. He was seven years old when the city was hit by an American atomic bomb in 1945. His mother died three years later from the effects of radioactive radiation.

After studying design in Tokyo, Miyake moved to Paris, where he worked with big names in the fashion world such as Hubert de Givenchy and Guy Laroche.

In 1970, the designer returned to Tokyo to open his own studio. In 1973 he presented his first own collection during Paris Fashion Week. Here he attracted attention with refined garments made with Japanese techniques.

Yeliz Çiçek, editor-in-chief of Vogue Nederland, says Miyake traveled to Japanese villages to learn these techniques from traditional designers. “He knew better than anyone how to properly make beloved garments such as the kimono and brought traditional techniques such as pleated to the catwalk.”

The influence of his work, according to Çiçek, extended beyond the fashion world. “He has put beautiful traditions on the map and inspired generations in Asia to enter the fashion, art and design worlds.”


This same eye for detail and craftsmanship led to Miyake’s most revolutionary work. In 1991 he presented his first collection Pleats Pleaseconsisting of pleated designs.

Check out some of his signature pleated designs:

After years of experimentation, the designer had developed a new technique for permanently pleating fabric by wrapping the fabric around sheets of paper in a heat press. The folds remain even when the garments are washed.

“He studied for a long time until he could get the wave movements just right,” says Dutch fashion designer Sepehr Maghsoudi. “The end result is almost a painting that seems to move before your eyes.”

Later in the 90s, Miyake debuted his innovative line A Piece of Clothing. For this collection he developed a new technique to make a garment from one roll of fabric.


Despite his sometimes complicated working method, Miyake always wanted his clothes to remain comfortable and the body could move freely in them. This also applied to the well-known black turtleneck sweater by Steve Jobs, which the designer had designed in the 1980s on behalf of his friend.

The Apple CEO later told his biographer Walter Isaacson that Miyake made 100 sweaters for him in one go, and that he never needed another one after that.

The fashion house founded by Miyake continues to release new collections. The brand sells clothing, bags, and perfumes worldwide.

Miyake passed away on August 5 from liver cancer, his office announced today.

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