Issey Miyake

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Issey Miyake
Issey Miyake Tokyo 2016.jpg
Born (1938-04-22) April 22, 1938 (age 83)
Hiroshima, Japan
EducationTama Art University
Notable work
L'eau d'Issey
AwardsPraemium Imperiale

Issey Miyake (三宅 一生, Miyake Issei[pronunciation?], born 22 April 1938) is a Japanese fashion designer. He is known for his technology-driven clothing designs, exhibitions and fragrances, such as L'eau d'Issey, which has become his most well-known product.

Life and career[edit]

1994 'Flying Saucer' dress. PFF collection.
An Issey Miyake gown on display in Florence, Italy, in 2007.
A design from the 1990 Rhythm Pleats collection; polyester, pleated, heat-and-pressure-set.
Steve Jobs (left) wearing his signature black mock turtle neck by Issey Miyake[1]

Miyake was born on April 22, 1938, in Hiroshima, Japan, where he witnessed the atomic bombing in August 1945.[2] As a child, he wanted to become a dancer. His interest in fashion started by studying his sister's fashion magazines. He studied graphic design at the Tama Art University in Tokyo, graduating in 1964. He entered designs into fashion competition at the Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo. However, he did not win a competition due to his lack of pattern-making or sewing skills. After graduation, he enrolled in the Chambre syndicale de la couture parisienne school in Paris and was an apprenticed to Guy Laroche as assistant designer. He also worked with Hubert de Givenchy, drawing 50 to 100 sketches daily.[3]

In 1969, he moved to New York, where he met artists like Christo and Robert Rauschenberg. He was enrolled in English classes at Columbia University and worked on Seventh Avenue for designer Geoffrey Beene.[3] Returning to Tokyo in 1970, he founded the Miyake Design Studio, a high-end producer of women's fashion.

From a young age, Miyake respected artist Isamu Noguchi, whose newness and sense of fun in his designs inspired Miyake. He was also inspired by fashion designer Madeleine Vionnet's use of geometric calculations and "a single piece of beautiful cloth."[4] In Paris, he visited several museums and he mentioned that he was influenced by sculptors such as Brancusi and Giacommetti.[3]

San Francisco Chronicle fashion editor Sylviia Rubin credits Miyake together with Babette Pinsky with "reinventing" the Fortuny pleat in the 1980s.[5]

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. 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 did the costume for Ballett Frankfurt with an ultra feather-polyester jersey permanently pleated in a piece named "the Loss of Small Detail" William Forsythe and also work on ballet "Garden in the setting". Miyake realized that the new method of making clothes fit well in dancers. After studying how dancers move, he sent 200 to 300 garments for dancers to wear a different one in each performance of The Last Detail. This led to the development of Pleats, Please range and inspired him to use dancers to display his work.[3]

He had a long friendship with Austrian-born pottery artist Dame Lucie Rie. She bequeathed to him her substantial collection of ceramic and porcelain buttons, which he integrated into his designs and presented in new collections.

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."[1]

Legendary designer Geoffrey Beene stated that he admired Issey Miyake for Miyake's technique, this in an interview with poet/artist Steven Vita in Veery journal, 1991.[6]

In March 1992 he was quoted in the International Herald Tribune as saying "Design is not for philosophy—it's for life."[7]

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 Creative Director by Dai Fujiwara who ran the House of Issey Miyake until 2012. The design duties were split as of the Spring/Summer 2012 collections, with Yoshiyuki Miyamae appointed head designer of the women's collection and Yusuke Takahashi designing the men's line.

As of 2012, he is one of the co-Directors of 21 21 DESIGN SIGHT, Japan's first design museum.[8] From March 2016 the largest retrospective of his work was organized at The National Art Center, Tokyo, celebrating 45 years of career.[9]

Issey Miyake lines and brands[edit]

Mr Miyake "oversees the overall direction of all lines created by his company", even though the individual collections have been designed by his staff since his 'retirement' from the fashion world in 1997.[10][11]

  • Issey Miyake - main collection line, subdivided into men (since 1978/85) and women (since 1971) collections, designed by Dai Fujiwara[12] (succeeded Naoki Takizawa in 2006)[13]
  • Issey Miyake Fête - colorful women's line that "draws on the technological innovations of Pleats Please"[14] (Fête means 'celebration' in French) (since 2004)
  • Pleats Please Issey Miyake - polyester jersey garments for women that are first "cut and sewn and then pleated [...] (normally, fabric is first pleated and then cut and sewn [...])" "to permanently retain washboard rows of horizontal, vertical or diagonal knife-edge pleats." Miyake patented the technique in 1993[15]
  • HaaT - women's line, designed by Miyake's former textile designer, Makiko Minagawa. HaaT means 'village market' in Sanskrit, the word sound similar to 'heart' in English[16]
  • A-POC - 1998- custom-collection for men and women. Tubes of fabric are machine-processed and can be cut into various shapes by the consumer. A-POC is an acronym of 'a piece of cloth', and a near homonym of 'epoch'.[10][12][17]
  • 132 5. Issey Miyake - an evolution of the A-POC concept. Works are presented as two-dimensional geometric shapes made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate mixed with natural fibers and dyes, which then unfold into structured garments.[18] (since 2014)
  • me Issey Miyake - line of "exclusive one-sized shirts that stretch to fit the wearer" that are sold in plastic tube, named Cauliflower for the non-Asian market.[19] (since 2001)
  • Bao Bao Issey Miyake - line of bags
  • Issey Miyake Watches - men's and women's watches
  • Issey Miyake Perfumes - line of fragrances for men and women. See below
  • Evian by Issey Miyake - Limited edition bottle designed by Issey Miyake for Evian water.
  • Issey Miyake maintains a freestanding store, named ELTTOB TEP Issey Miyake (reverse for 'Pet Bottle') in Osaka where the full array of lines is available.[20]
  • 21 21 Design Sight (a play on 20/20 vision) is a museum-style research center for design, constructed by Tadao Ando, that was opened in Roppongi, Tokyo in March 2007. The center is headed by Issey Miyake and four other Japanese designers, and operated by The Miyake Issey Foundation.[21][22]
  • The Miyake Issey Foundation, founded in Tokyo in 2004, operates the 21_21 Design Sight center, organizes exhibitions and events, and publishes literature.
  • Issey Skyline - produced in limited quantities to promote the release of the Nissan Skyline in 1982.


Like many fashion designers, Issey Miyake also has a line of perfumes. His first fragrance, the light aquatic-floral L'eau d'Issey for women, was launched in 1992. The name L'eau d'Issey (engl.: Issey's water) is a pun. In French, it sounds identical to "l'odyssée" (English "odyssey"). The bottle, designed by Miyake himself, is based on the view of the moon behind the Eiffel Tower from his Paris apartment.

The scent was followed by L'eau d'Issey Pour Homme (for men) in 1994. L'eau Bleue d'Issey Pour Homme was introduced in 2004; and its evolution, L'eau Bleue d'Issey Eau Fraiche was introduced in 2006. Every year since 2007, Issey Miyake has brought out a "limited time only" fragrance for ladies in which he brings in a "guest" perfumer. In 2007, he launched 'Drop on a Petal', and in 2008 he launched 'Reflections in a Drop'. A new Issey Miyake men's fragrance, L'eau d'Issey Pour Homme Intense, was introduced at Nordstrom in the United States in June 2007, with a larger worldwide rollout following in September 2007. Issey Miyake fragrances are produced under a long-term agreement by the Beauté Prestige International division of Shiseido, who also produces fragrances for Narciso Rodriguez, Elie Saab, and Jean-Paul Gaultier.



  1. ^ a b Steve Jobs' black turtleneck reportedly explained in biography (Nathan Olivarez-Giles, Los Angeles Times, October 11, 2011)
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d English, Bonnie (2011). Japanese fashion designers : the work and influence of Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo. Oxford. ISBN 978-0-85785-054-6. OCLC 857064156.
  4. ^ "Issey Miyake - MOVES - Documentary". Vimeo. Retrieved 2020-08-16.
  5. ^ Rubin, Sylvia (27 April 2008). "She has that Babette look - 40 years later". San Francisco Chrinicle.
  6. ^ "Geoffrey Beene Interview". V E E R Y J O U R N A L. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  7. ^ International Herald Tribune, Paris, March 23, 1992
  8. ^ "Art Space Tokyo". 21_21 Design Sight: Tokyo Art Maps. Retrieved 2012-01-09.
  9. ^ "The work of Miyake Issey". Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2008-05-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Contemporary Magazine - The A-POC epoch
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-06-12. Retrieved 2008-05-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Fashion Windows - Issey Miyake
  12. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-02-13. Retrieved 2008-05-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) DNR -A-POC making
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-13. Retrieved 2008-05-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Marie Claire - Issey Miyake
  14. ^ Archived 2008-06-10 at the Wayback Machine Metropolis - Festival of Style
  15. ^ "Techno frock". The Age. 17 June 2006. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  16. ^ Rath, Paula (12 July 2006). "Worldly textiles". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  17. ^ Siaotong, Bernardo. "Epoch of A-POC". Image Venue. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  18. ^ ISSEY MIYAKE INC. "ISSEY MIYAKE INC". Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-22. Retrieved 2008-05-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Designboom - 'me'
  20. ^ Archived 2008-05-04 at the Wayback Machine Hint Mag - Different Strokes
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2008-05-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) 21_21 - The directors
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-08-07. Retrieved 2008-05-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Mitsui Fudosan - "21/21 Design Sight" to be established
  23. ^ Rowe, Peter (11 March 2007). "Intelligent Design-Issey Miyaki". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  24. ^ "Issey Miyake Receives Top Award". Vogue. Vogue. Retrieved 3 May 2016.

External links[edit]