Famous Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake dies of cancer


Designer Issey Miyake, known in the fashion world as the prince of pleats and for his innovative cuts and daring styling, has died of cancer. He was 84 years old.

His studio Miyake Design Office said on Tuesday that he died Aug. 5 after a battle with liver cancer, according to The Associated Press.

The trailblazing designer, who became a star in the 1970s shortly after setting up his design studio, was best known for his origami-style pleated garments that never wrinkle, as well as crafting the iconic black turtlenecks of Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Japanese public media organization NHK reported that a family funeral had already taken place and that there would be no further public events in accordance with Miyake’s wishes.

His clothes were known to be baggy and not as tight as his western fashion counterparts at the time, as he championed freedom of material movement. His clothes were often made with minimal decoration and detail with a large shape and block colors.

His creations have been worn by many celebrities and exhibited in museums around the world. There are 136 Issey Miyake stores in Japan and 134 stores worldwide. He then designed handbags, watches and fragments before retiring in 1997.

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Miyake, who was born in Hiroshima in southern Japan in 1938, was a seven-year-old student when the atomic bomb was dropped there in 1945, devastating lives, including that of his mother. He wrote in a 2009 New York Times opinion piece that he never wanted “to be defined by my past.”

“I didn’t want to be labeled ‘the designer who survived the atomic bomb’, so I always avoided questions about Hiroshima. They made me feel uncomfortable,” he wrote, urging then-US President Barack Obama to visit the city on a tour of Asia. “But now I realize this is a topic that needs to be discussed if we are ever to rid the world of nuclear weapons.”

“I close my eyes, I still see things that no one should ever experience,” he said. “Bright red light, the black cloud soon after, people running in all directions desperately trying to escape – I remember it all. Within three years, my mother died from radiation exposure .

Miyake went on to study graphic design at an art college in Tokyo, according to Reuters, then clothing design in Paris, where he worked as an apprentice for fashion designers Guy Laroche and Hubert de Givenchy. He then moved to New York and then to Tokyo.

Apple co-founder Jobs told his biographer that he asked the Japanese designer to make him a uniform initially for his Apple staff, but the idea was quickly rejected by employees. Jobs, however, began wearing the black shirts himself, often paired with stiff blue jeans and white sneakers.

“So I had Issey make me a couple of his black turtlenecks that I liked, and he made me like a hundred of them,” Jobs said, pointing to a stack in his wardrobe. “I have enough to last the rest of my life.”

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