Issey Miyake

(b. 1935)

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(1935– )

Japanese fashion designer Miyake has been a major figure in stretching the definition of clothing design through his probing and imaginative explorations of the relationship between the body and its coverings, drawing on the possibilities of traditional Japanese forms and natural weaves, well man‐made materials and contemporary attitudes blended with a first‐hand knowledge of Western couture and culture. For Miyake ‘anything can be clothing’, whether oil‐soaked paper traditionally used for umbrellas, high‐tech synthetic materials or even rattan. Decorative effects in Miyake clothing ranged from the exploration of traditional tie‐dyeing of traditional fabrics made with ramie fibre on the one hand or the rich surface interest generated by a heat‐set pleating machine on the other. Miyake was also an important figurehead in the international recognition of Japanese designers in the West, following on from fashion designers Hanae Mori and Kenzo before him, although his name is the most widely known. After graduating in graphic design from Tama Art University in Tokyo in 1964, Miyake moved to Paris in the following year. He studied fashion design at the school of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, before working for Guy Laroche from 1966 to 1967 and Hubert de Givenchy in 1968. He moved to New York in the following year and worked with Geoffrey Beene before returning to Tokyo once more in 1970. After opening the Miyake Design Studio (MDS) in the same year, he established Miyake International Inc. in 1971 and showed his first collection in Tokyo and New York. His first Paris collection followed in 1973 and he went on to establish design companies in Paris in 1979 and the United States in 1982. Over three decades he has produced innovative fabric designs, both natural and synthetic, assisted by Makiko Minagawa, who had been employed at the newly established Miyake Design Studio following her graduation from art school in Kyoto in 1970. Other collaborations have included that with the choreographer William Forsythe and the Frankfurt Ballet in 1988. By the early 21st century the Miyake name was associated with a diversity of products ranging from luggage and home furnishings to bicycles. Miyake has won countless awards including the Mainichi Fashion Grand Prize (1984, 1989, and 1993), the Council of American Fashion Designers' International Award (1984), the Award for the Best Collection presented by a Foreign Designer at Les Oscars 1985 de la Mode in Paris and the Asahi Prize in 1991. His work has also featured extensively in numerous publications and international exhibitions since the 1970s. One of the most significant that brought him to international prominence was the Bodyworks exhibition that was shown in Tokyo, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London between 1983 and 1985.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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