Fashion maverick Issey Miyake, known for his showstopping performance art runway shows, cult perfumes, and innovative fabric manipulation, has died in a Tokyo hospital at age 84. Confirmed by the Miyake Design Group, the design titan was surrounded by close friends at the time of his unfortunate passing.
Issey Miyake revolutionized fabric and form, with his silhouettes echoing that of a sculptor. This avant-garde approach to design helped etch the Japanese aesthetic into the design cannon, making it global, alongside fellow Japanese design titans Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto.
Studying graphic design in Tokyo, moving to Paris to apprentice under famed french couturiers Guy Laroche and Givenchy, and a stint in the New York atelier of Geoffrey Beene— this unique education informed much of his work. He effortlessly fused Eastern and Western elements, resulting in an aesthetic that was distinctly his.
He founded his eponymous Miyake Design Studio in 1970, presenting first in New York, then subsequentially Paris. He continued to expand on the concept of making clothing from a “piece of cloth,” experimenting with existing techniques, leading to the development of new materials and design techniques. The 80s saw him push this fabric innovation even further with the creation of his infamous pleated fabrication; Pleats, Please, which became a massive hit! To this day, these crimped, origami-like fabrics continue to have the same reverence with everyone from Diddy and Russell Westbrook to model Paloma Elsesser and Doja Cat rocking variations of the iconic pleated form.
Throughout his career, he’s assembled quite the roster of fans and a loyal following, from Grace Jones, Rihanna, and Solange (who drew inspiration from his infamous interconnected single tube dress for her “Don’t Touch My Hair” video) to Basquiat and the art crowd at large. Over the years, his clothes, world, and universal design language have created a devoted community. While Miyake eventually withdrew from daily operations of his namesake label and its many fusion lines, his essence was very much still present.