Issey Miyake by Carolina Gorton

Issey Miyake was born on April 22nd 1938 in Hiroshima. When he turned seven years old, he witnessed and survived the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th 1945. His mother did not survive this tragic event- she was badly burned by the bombing of Hiroshima and died four years later. However, in an ironic twist of fate, the American occupation of Japan, that occured after the attack, gave the young designer a first-hand look at Western culture. Miyake’s interests turned to the artistic. Already as a child, he dreamt about becoming a dancer or an artist and started his education with this in his mind. He entered the prestigious Tama Art University in Tokyo in 1959, where he majored in graphic arts. A few years later, in 1965, after graduating from Tama, he moved to Paris to learn the art of Haute Couture. In Paris he started his studies at the renowned tailoring and dressmaking school École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne.After his impressive educational progress, he started working for important designers like Guy Laroche, Givenchy and Geoffrey Beene. Working at these well-known companies allowed him to gain practical experience and led him to establish his own brand named Issey Miyake in Tokyo in 1970.

Miyake is nowadays considered as the first Asian fashion designer to have become famous worldwide. He is the winner of nearly every existing fashion award, but is known to dislike the title „fashion designer“. He prefers to be considered an artist whose medium is fabric. Miyake’s most popular lines are considered to be the Pleats Please and the A-POC line.

In the late 1980’s, he began to experiment with new methods of pleating. He was always very interested in new techniques and therefore dedicated a lot of his time to research. In 1994 and 1999 he even turned over the design of the men’s and women’s collections respectively to his associate Naoki Takizawa so that he could return to research full-time. Miyake admired the way clothes could drape the human body to make a statement and this fact can be seen in his Pleats Please line. He experiments with a lot of different materials and tried to combine them in a certain way to give a feeling of a mix of Eastern and Western world. He uses natural and synthetic fibers together, such as traditional Japanese oil-soaked paper, as well as nylon monofilament and molded silicone. Furthermore, he was the first to use ultrasuede and explored new weaving and dyeing techniques. He wanted to allow the wearer both flexibility of movement as well as ease of care and production. The Pleats Please technique is his own special technique. The garments are cut and sewn first, then sandwiched between layers of papers and fed into a heat press, where they are pleated.

In addition, his second very popular line is called A-POC deriving from „A Piece of Cloth“. This line shows again a very special and new technique on the garment market. It consists of the process of manufacturing shirts and dresses from a single piece of cloth that required no sewing. This method was explored by Miyake in 1999.

The creation of his perfume line is also worth-mentioning, since it was very successful. Issey Miyake entered the perfume market in 1992 with the launch of L’Eau d’Issey, which is nowadays one of the most well-known perfumes in the world. His inspiration for these fragrances was extracted from Japanese culture’s emphasis on pure water and bathing.

In conclusion, Issey Miyake is a very well-known designer, who keeps a special identity for his lines. He puts great emphasis on research to create something new on the market by mixing Japanese artform and sense of movement with Western ideas. Issey Miyake retired from the fashion world in 1997.

Bibliography: Accessed April 27th 2010. Accessed April 26th 2010. Accessed April 27th 2010. Accessed April 26th 2010.


Issey Miyake- miyake1.JPG

Pleats Please line- pleats-please.jpg

A-POC technique- isseymiyake_1.jpg


Issay Miyake designs- Issey_Miyake_paris_fashion_week_fw09_2.jpg

Issey Miyake for men- issey-miyake-autumn-winter-2009-front.jpg


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