Revolutionary Japanese fashion designer Issei Miyake died at 84, his company has announced.
Known for his innovative styles and perfumes, Miyake created a global fashion brand, which included designing Steve Jobs’ famous black turtle neck jumpers. Miyake worked with traditional and modern fashion techniques during his long career.
Japanese media are reporting he died of liver cancer on Friday, and a private funeral has already taken place. Born in Hiroshima in 1938, Miyake was just seven years old when the city was devastated by an atomic bomb dropped by the United States.
He was reluctant to talk about it as an adult and wrote in the New York Times in 2009 that he did not want to be known as “the designer who survived the atomic bomb”.
“When I close my eyes, I still see things no one should ever experience,” he wrote, adding that he prefers to think of things “that can be created, not destroyed, and that bring beauty and joy”.
Miyake wanted to be a dancer or athlete when he was young – but that changed after he read his sister’s fashion magazines.
He studied graphic design at a Tokyo art university and then moved to Paris in the 1960s, where he worked with lauded fashion designers Guy Laroche and Hubert de Givenchy.
He moved to New York briefly before heading back to Tokyo in 1970 to open the Miyake Design Studio.
By the 1980s, he was celebrated as one of the world’s most pioneering designers, working with materials from plastic to metal and traditional Japanese materials and paper.
Miyake developed a new way of pleating fabric by wrapping it between layers of paper in a heat press.
A phenomenal success after various tests proved the pleats stayed in place and didn’t wrinkle, it led to his signature Pleats, Please line. He became known for creating a high-tech yet practical and comfortable style and was a household name in Japan’s fashion industry – and on the global catwalk.
Miyake was asked by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs to design his iconic turtle neck jumpers and reportedly made 100 of them at $175 each.
He was awarded the prestigious Kyoto Prize for his dedication to the arts in 2006 and received the Order of Culture in 2010 for “remarkable accomplishments” in Japan’s culture and arts.