Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, who has died of cancer at the age of 84, rejected words like “fashion” in his work.
But his work allowed much of the world to think itself through clothes.
In the year Born in Hiroshima in 1938, Miyake studied graphic design in Tokyo, where he was influenced by the Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi and the black-and-white photography of Irving Penn.
After the war, as the ban on Japanese citizens traveling abroad was lifted, he headed for Paris, arriving in 1964.
Part of Japan’s revolution in fashion, Issei Miyake – who died on August 5 – changed the way we looked, dressed and fashioned.
There, the young designer studied for the famous haute couture fashion houses of Guy Laroche and Hubert de Givenchy. Such houses produced expensive clothes that conformed to ethical standards. Miyake had to go further than that. Miyake in 2010 He was there for the student uprising in Paris in 1968 and was inspired by a youth upheaval that shook all the rules of society.
The concept developed by the couturier started a few years ago when Yves Saint Laurent created Saint Laurent Rive Gachet in late 1966. The fashion system was changing and Miyake rose to the challenge.
The Japanese Fashion Revolution.
Miyake arrived in Paris after Kenzo’s “Jungle Jap” clothes, based in part on Japanese artistic traditions, made waves with their bright colors and unexpected styles.
The Japanese revolution began in fashion.
Japanese designers Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto and Issey – all born in the 1930s and ’40s’ – rose to prominence in the ’70s and showed in Paris.
All were questioning Eurocentric views of fashion and beauty. Japanese designers changed the Western focus on symmetry and purity and adopted aspects of the Japanese aesthetic system, for example Yamamoto used colors such as red, purple, cerise, brown and dark blue.
Miyake held his first shows in New York in 1971 and Paris in 1973. He combined technology with traditional, Japanese aesthetics and uncut, loose clothing. He also commissioned high-tech textiles that influenced fashion around the world.
Miyake’s BODY series includes the famous plastic, rattan and resin materials in which the female body is reimagined as a form of armor. In the year In February 1982, the popular journal Artforum photographed a Miyake bustier on its cover. It was the first time a contemporary art journal covered fashion.
covering the body
Throughout his career, Miyake fully envisioned the potential of textiles.
Working with textile director Makiko Minagawa and Japanese textile mills, he began creating the famous Pleat collection: using heat-treated polyester fabrics that are not filled before sewing (the usual practice), but very large, and then filled by machines.
In the year The 1989 collection of Rhythm Plates was inspired by the French artist Henri Rousseau: Miyake took elements of the color palette and the strange sculptures around the women in these paintings, a good example of how his influence was always abstract and suggestive.
His most commercial collection Pleats Please was launched in 1993.
The A-POC (A Piece of Cloth) collection (in collaboration with Dai Fujiwara, 1998) showed a revolution in clothing design and anxieties over the sustainability of fashion and its attendant waste. Garments are knitted in three dimensions in a continuous tube using computerized knitting technology as a whole and from a single thread.
The clothes came in a cylinder and were later cut by the owner – there was no waste, because the remaining part became, for example, mitts.
Miyake and men
In the year In 1991, Miyake’s pneumatic collection included knickerbocker pants for men with a rubber bladder and straw – men could make the clothes inflatable or adjustable.
It was an era of AIDS crisis and organ loss. Calvin Klein responded with hyper-masculine underwear and hyper-masculine advertising. Miyake, on the other hand, tested the oil by suggesting that we use clothing to shape our bodies and appearance to fit our needs.
Having worn the garment for some time, I can attest to the freedom it provides. The jackets are irregular and hug the body in unexpected ways. Sleeves can be made to create a pagoda shape on your arm and add flexibility to the body. The color palette is very unusual and very different from the diet of woolen or woolen fabrics.
A computer-generated jacquard weave creates subtle patterns just by looking closely. Fabric has an unexpected touch next to the skin. Some clothes are literally rolled up in a ball. They weigh nothing, freeing the traveler. After wearing the body, they come back to life.
There is a real sense that you, the wearer, bring these inanimate objects to life: dress is a performance and the clothes generate a theatrical and functional reality. Although they are widely worn (there is a cliché that every gallerist ever lived in Miyake) people want to touch them for themselves, so they remain interested in them.
In the year At the Issey Miyake retrospective in Tokyo in 2016, I saw Miyake and wanted to pass by and thank him for changing the power, material opportunity, and fantasy of women’s and men’s fashion around the world.
For this I would like to thank him now.
Reprinted from the discussion
The author is a distinguished professor of design history at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.
Posted on Dawn, ICON, August 21, 2022