Japanese designer Issey Miyake, who produced the signature black mock turtleneck of friend and Apple founder Steve Jobs and famed for his pleated style of clothing that never wrinkles, has died of liver cancer at the age of 84.
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 speak of the event in later life.
“When I close my eyes, I still see things no one should ever experience,” he wrote, adding that within three years, his mother died of radiation exposure.
“I have tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to put them behind me, preferring to think of things that can be created, not destroyed, and that bring beauty and joy. I gravitated toward the field of clothing design, partly because it is a creative format that is modern and optimistic.”
After studying graphic design at a Tokyo art university, he learnt clothing design in Paris, where he worked with famed fashion designers Guy Laroche and Hubert de Givenchy, before heading 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 putting them into a heat press, with the garments holding their pleated shape. Tested for their freedom of movement on dancers, this led to the development of his signature “Pleats, Please” line.
MacDailyNews Take: According to an excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, at one point, Jobs looked to create a uniform for Apple employees after visiting Sony, whose company uniforms were designed by Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake.
“So Jobs called Issey Miyake and asked him to design a vest for Apple, Jobs recalled, “I came back with some samples and told everyone it would great if we would all wear these vests. Oh man, did I get booed off the stage. Everybody hated the idea.”
So, Jobs ended up with a uniform of his own:
In the process, however, he became friends with Miyake and would visit him regularly. He also came to like the idea of having a uniform for himself, both because of its daily convenience (the rationale he claimed) and its ability to convey a signature style. “So I asked Issey to make me some of his black turtlenecks that I liked, and he made me like a hundred of them.” Jobs noticed my surprise when he told this story, so he showed them stacked up in the closet. “That’s what I wear,” he said. “I have enough to last for the rest of my life.”
R.I.P., Issey Miyake.
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