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World-renowned Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake dies at 84

Issey Miyake
Issey Miyake Copyright © Brigitte Lacombe
Copyright © Brigitte Lacombe
By Euronews with AFP
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Issey Miyake, who built one of Japan’s biggest fashion brands, has died. He was 84.

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Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, known for his boldly sculpted pleated pieces, as well as former Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ black turtlenecks, has died. He was 84.

Miyake died in a Tokyo Hospital from liver cancer on Friday, 5 August, his office confirmed. 

The innovator defined an era in Japan’s modern history, reaching stardom in the 1970s among a generation of designers and artists who reached global fame by defining a Japanese vision that was unique from the West.

Miyake’s origami-like pleats transformed usually crass polyester into chic. He also used computer technology in weaving to create apparel. His down-to-earth clothing was meant to celebrate the human body regardless of race, build, size or age.

He detested being called a fashion designer, choosing not to identify with what he saw as frivolous, trend-watching consumption.

Born in Hiroshima in 1938, Miyake was a star as soon as he hit the European runways. His brown top, which combined the Japanese sewn fabric “sashiko” with raw silk knit, was splashed on the cover of the September 1973 issue of Elle magazine.

Miyake was also a pioneer in gender roles, asking feminist Fusae Ichikawa in the 1970s — when she was in her 80s — to be his model, sending the message that garments must be comfortable and express the natural beauty of real people.

Although he made clothes that went beyond the mundane, appearing to reach for the spiritual, he made a point to never get pretentious, always approving of the T-shirt-and-jeans look.

“Designing is like a living organism in that it pursues what matters for its well-being and continuity,” Miyake once wrote.

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