Issey Miyake

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Issey Miyake was born in 1938 in Hiroshima, Japan and graduated from the Tama Art University in Tokyo in 1964, where he studied graphic design .In 1965,he moved to Paris where he worked for Guy Laroche (1966-1968) and Givenchy (1968). In 1969-70 he worked for Geoffrey Beene in New York City.

In 1970,Miyake opened the Miyake Design Studio (MDS) to create new fabrics and clothes, and in 1971 the Miyake International Inc.followed. Miyake showed his first collection in 1971 in both Tokyo and New York, and in Paris for the first time in 1973.he established a design company in France in 1979 and in the United States of America in 1982.

From the early days on his collections appear almost as often in museums or on theatre-stages as they appear on the runways of the fashion business.

Miyake’s early collections were influenced by Vionnet and Traditional Japanese folk wear, and today his avant-garde styles are striking and timeless, his innovative fabrics, in both natural fibres and new synthetics, are created with his assistant, Makiko Minagawa.Since his work with choreographer William Forsythe and the Frankfurt Ballet in 1988,Miyake experiments with pleated fabrics of all kind.

Being guided by the future and nature as the inspiration, Issey Miyake has created clothing with enduring global appeal hence first Asian designer to have become truly Global, not only renown but also in aesthetics, and has been described as the worlds most original fashion designers by the Sunday Times Editorial 1992. Well that myself can confirm, he really has a sense of practical fashion, that is to mean one gets to feel the impact of his clothes both in comfort and beauty.

Issey miyake’ s work has always posed fundamental questions about the nature of clothing questions that have dominated his career from the 70s to the present day.

Rejecting the label of fashion designer’ defining himself instead as clothes maker or simply designer by which he means that beauty is in dissociable from form and function.

Making things 1998

In March 1998, the autumn / winter collection was presented in Paris, a lot of surprise and admiration was raised as Miyake decorated the show with thick paper columns .The heading of the collection was ‘ le figaro ; meaning Miyake looks to the future .

It being an environment collection exhibition thin heat membranes of metallic paper were heat-pressed on to clothes made of soft cotton, flannel, wool, felt or jersey these sheets of metal were torn open along the lines of the creases to reveal random patterns. The aim of this was to systematically recycle existing materials basing on fundamental issues facing modern society-Miyake’s objective was indeed to limit waste of scarce material to a minimum degree during the production process, and to treat all left over material so that it can be reused thus addressing the problems of environment.

This is where the concept of making things comes from as it involves creating things that make life more agreeable in today’s society and less burdensome in tomorrows’.

Creating clothes beyond the reach of time is the achievement of Issey Miyake thus his success.

Success and people

Despite Miyake’s success he has kept in touch with different people and most of his encounters have been decisive for his work.

He says that he learns enormous amounts from the way people behave. He has worked with Irving Penn and he has discovered how little strength he had when he saw his work reproduced by means of the camera lens, he says his encounter with Shiro Kumarata was also very exciting for him and had an important influence on his work for the collection ‘Body works’. He has been influenced as well by the works of Lucie Rie, Ettore Sottass, Tadao Ando, Isamu Noguchi, William Forsythe and the poet Shuntaro Tanikawa, his meeting such people has played such an important role in both his life and career.

”…To be in contact with the thinking has given rise to a work of art and to collaborate with artists unleashes my energy. This is the thinking that gave birth to the ”Guest artist series.”

The Arizona exhibition and children 1997

In June 1997 an exhibition entitled ‘Isamu and Issey Miyake Arizona ‘ was held in the Marugame Genichiro -Inokuma Museum of contemporary Art in Kagawa, it was for children to commemorate his friend Isamu Noguchi, who was his mentor and a man who had made him think about ‘the true essence of the West, of the East and of Japan.

Through out the exhibition children were able to experience the making of clothes, wear the clothes they made and take part in the fashion show. Miyake remarked ‘I wanted it to be a joyful exhibition where children as well as adults could instinctively understand how to see freely and think about things.’

In 1992 the Sunday Times in an Edition devoted to 1000 makers of the twentieth Century, described Miyake as ‘the world’s most original fashion designer’.


The miyake design is divided into three sections: the design studio, the work shop and management .in the design studio each person is responsible for his or her own research theme. Parallel to this the pattern makers of the workshop start to give a concrete form to the clothes.

As General Manager Miyake has always to think and decide upon the theme and fundamental ideas for the next season a year to 18 months in advance.

Each person looks for basic materials which best suite the theme, it could be traditional kimonos painting Indian cloth, or photography, after selection of a number of elements, material to use is decided upon and machinery that can make it is looked for. Ideas of each person are regarded important and incorporated into one.

Miyake says working, as a team is a fundamental principle as each person must be proud of what he or she does. All information has to be shared so that the whole team can move along. It’s very important to unite every one’s ideas and address them by trying every possible combination, as inevitably something new will always arise and reality takes shape.

Fusion of industrial and craft techniques-Humour and emotion

Coming to industrial production, Miyake says he never intends to make uniform products, as every one’s face is different, it’s right and proper that every product has its own characteristics. To him functionality is so important but humour, emotion and originality are indispensable.

To Miyake traditional crafts and industry are equally important. He has always reflected on his background as in production, he always wants to produce something different from Europe. He has noted that in India manual work is not merely artisanal but in fact comes close to industrial work. He thinks that industry and crafts should become more interdependent, but he is opposed to the crafts people who have become detached from the functional product as its meaningless to make traditional objects without function.

It’s this force of fusion of industrial and craft techniques that saw the 1997 Autumn /Winter Collection entitled ‘Prism Collage ‘, a hand-made work requiring the input of all five senses and using state of the art techniques. It consisted of several coloured materials, opaque or translucent, inserted into or laid over large square of uniform. This collection was aimed at bringing craft and industry together in order to produce work, which provokes humour, fun and emotion.

Launch of Pleats Issey miyake

Pleats please Issey Miyake is a collection of clothes swelled by wind, swirling gently-slips their arms into the clothes and pulls them over their body, feels the soft caress of the parallel pleats on their skin, their body take on magnificent out lines.

Miyake spent quite many years working on collections in Paris, he felt that there should be another style that focussed on female audience one that would not be restricted to a particular age or profession but inspired by current aesthetics.

The liberation of women helped in the development of that collection. The development of such clothes was also aided by the evolution and transformation of materials .it was the appearance of polyester and the increased development of functional hi-tech techniques that stimulated him into synthetic clothing research, this led to industrially produced material, not too expensive at the same time no body had used as outer clothing.

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