Issey Miyake, Japan’s pleated prince, dies of cancer aged 84


TOKYO, Aug 9 (Reuters) – Japanese designer Issey Miyake, famous for his pleated clothing style that never wrinkles and produced the signature black turtleneck of Steve Jobs, friend and founder of Apple Inc (AAPL.O ), died, media reported on Tuesday. He was 84 years old.

Miyake, whose name became synonymous with Japan’s economic and fashion prowess in the 1980s, died on August 5 of liver cancer, the Kyodo news agency reported. No other details were immediately available.

Known for his practicality, Miyake would have liked to become a dancer or an athlete before reading his sister’s fashion magazines inspired him to change direction – with these original interests which would be at the origin of the freedom of movement that his clothes allow.

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Miyake was born in Hiroshima and was seven years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on the city while he was in a classroom. He was reluctant to talk about the event later in his life. In 2009, writing in The New York Times as part of a campaign to entice then US President Barack Obama to visit the city, he said he did not want to be called “a creator who survived” the bomb.

“When I close my eyes I still see things no one should ever experience,” he wrote, adding that within three years his mother had died from radiation exposure.

“I tried, but failed, to put them behind me, preferring to think of things that can be created, not destroyed, and which bring beauty and joy. I turned to the field of clothing design, partly because it’s a creative format that’s modern and upbeat.”

After studying graphic design at an art university in Tokyo, he learned clothing design in Paris, where he worked with famous fashion designers Guy Laroche and Hubert de Givenchy, before moving to New York. In 1970, he returned to Tokyo and founded the Miyake Design Studio.

In the late 1980s he developed a new way of pleating by wrapping fabrics between layers of paper and placing them in a heat press, with the garments retaining their pleated shape. Tested for freedom of movement on dancers, this led to the development of his signature “Pleats, Please” line.

Eventually, he developed over a dozen fashion lines ranging from his main Issey Miyake for men and women to bags, watches and fragrances before retiring in 1997 to devote himself to research.

In 2016, when asked what he thought were the challenges facing future designers, he told Britain’s Guardian newspaper that people were likely to consume less.

“We may have to go through a thinning process. It’s important,” he said.

“In Paris, we call people who make clothes couturiers – they develop new clothes – but really, design work is about creating something that works in real life.”

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Reporting by Kantaro Komiya and Elaine Lies; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Chris Cushing and Susan Fenton

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