Issey Miyake, Japanese fashion designer, dies aged 84

Issey Miyake, Japanese fashion designer, dies aged 84

TOKYO — Issey Miyake, the Japanese designer famous for his pleated clothing styles and iconic perfumes, whose name became synonymous with high-tech fashion around the world in the 1980s, died in Tokyo on Friday. He was 84.

The death was announced Tuesday by the Miyake Design Studio, which cited liver cancer as the cause.

Mr. Miyake is perhaps best known for his micro-creases, which he first introduced in 1988 but has recently seen a surge in popularity with a new and younger consumer base.

His proprietary heat treatment system meant the accordion-like folds in his designs could be machine washed, never lost their shape, and offered the ease of loungewear. He also produced the black turtleneck sweater that became part of the signature look of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple.

His Bao Bao bag, made of mesh fabric covered in small colorful polyvinyl triangles, has long been a favorite accessory for the creative industries.

Pleats Please, a 1993 clothing line featuring waterfalls of razor-sharp pleats, became his most iconic look.

Mr. Miyake’s designs appeared everywhere from factory floors – he designed a uniform for workers at Japanese electronics giant Sony – to dance floors. His insistence that clothing is a form of design was considered avant-garde in the early years of his career, and he had notable collaborations with photographers and architects. His designs found their way onto the cover of Artforum in 1982 – unheard of for a fashion designer at the time – and into the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Mr. Miyake was celebrated in Japan for creating a global brand that contributed to the country’s efforts to become an international fashion and pop culture destination. In 2010 he received the Order of Culture, the country’s highest award for the arts.

Kazunaru Miyake was born on April 22, 1938. He walked with a pronounced limp, the result of surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, his hometown, on August 6, 1945. His mother died of radiation poisoning three years later.

Mr. Miyake rarely spoke of that day — or other aspects of his personal history — “he preferred to think of things that can be created, cannot be destroyed, and that bring beauty and joy,” he wrote in a 2009 op-ed in the New York Times.

He graduated from Tama Art University in Tokyo in 1963, where he studied design. After studying in Paris during the 1968 student protests and a stay in New York, he founded the Miyake Design Studio in 1970. He was one of the first Japanese designers to exhibit in Paris and was part of a revolutionary wave of designers that brought Japanese fashion to the rest of the world, opening the door for later contemporaries such as Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo.

He often stressed that he didn’t consider himself a “fashion designer”.

“Everything that is “in” goes out of style too quickly. I don’t do fashion. I make clothes,” Mr. Miyake told Parisvoice magazine in 1998.

“What I wanted to do weren’t clothes that were only for people with money. It was things like jeans and T-shirts, things familiar to many people, easy to wash and easy to wear,” he said in a 2015 interview with Japanese daily The Yomiuri Shimbun.

Still, he was perhaps best known as a designer whose styles blended the discipline of fashion with technology and art. His inspiring idea was that clothing should be made from a single piece of fabric, and he pursued designs – like his famous pleats – that incorporated new techniques and fabrics to achieve this goal.

There was no immediate information on Mr. Miyake’s survivors. A famous private individual, the designer was known for his close relationships with his longtime colleagues and collaborators, whom he considered essential to his success. He was most closely associated with Midori Kitamura, who started out as a fit model at his studio, worked with him for almost 50 years and now serves as president of his design studio.

Throughout his life, “he has never withdrawn from his love, the process of creating things,” Mr. Miyake’s office said in a statement.

“I’m most interested in people and the human form,” Mr. Miyake told The Times in 2014. “Clothes come closest to all people.”

Hikari Hida contributed coverage from Tokyo.