Born on April 22, 1938 in Hiroshima, Japan, designer Issey Miyake is known for creating an eclectic mix of Eastern culture and the textile technology of the West. This blend stems from his early exposure to the Western culture during the World War II American occupation in Japan, when he was just aged 10. He is noted to be one of the most innovative fashion designers and the first Asian to be renowned globally as such.
He studied and majored in graphic design at the Tama Art University in Tokyo. As a student he was influenced by Richard Avendon, Hiro and Andy Warhol. He moved to Paris in 1964 where he learned haute couture by working as a design assistant for Guy Laroche and Givenchy. He moved to New York and created designs for Geoffrey Beene, until he finally returned to Tokyo in 1970 where he founded the Miyake Design Studio. He started to incorporate designs with Japanese elements, such as the kimono and sashiko coat.
In 1978, he published a book called “East Meets West” – a picturesque collection of his greatest designs. A year after, he opened a company in France, followed by another in the States in 1982. In the late 80s, Miyake tried to experiment with a technique that would let fabrics stay permanently pleated yet allow flexibility for the consumer. This turns out to be one of the most popular lines of Miyake’s and is aptly named “Pleats Please”. He collaborated with ballet productions such as “The Loss of Small Detail” and “Garden in the Setting” for the costumes. He also launched another popular line, A-POC (A Piece of Cloth), which showcases single, ready-to-wear clothes.
In 1992, Miyake’s first fragrance, L’eau d’Issey (French for Issey’s water) for women was launched. It was succeeded by L’eau d’Issey Pour Homme (for men) in 1994. In 1999 he temporarily turned over his collection to work associate Naoki Takizawa to re-focus on research. In 2004 he introduced yet another perfume, L’eau Bleue d’Issey Pour Homme, but production was recently cut off because of low sales.
Miyake received numerous recognitions for his creative ingenuity. In 2001 he was awarded by Toronto for being a world leader in innovative fashion. Then, he won the Arts and Philosophy Prize in Kyoto in 2006. He was also featured in an exhibit hosted by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London entitled “What is Radical Fashion”.
Today, Issey Miyake has yet another new line of fragrance in the market, L’eau d’Issey Pour Homme Intense and has several stores in Tokyo, Paris, London and New York, where his flagship store in Tribeca showcases his complete collection. Aside from clothing and perfume, his label also features hosiery and home furnishings, a proof that Issey Miyake does not limit himself to the niche of a fashion designer, but also lends himself to life and art.