POST 5: Issey Miyake

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Miyake had always wanted to be a fashion designer, and in 1959 he enrolled in a graphic arts course at Tokyo’s famous Tama Art University. Five years later – in early 1965 – he moved to Paris to fulfil his dream.

He scored a gig with Guy Laroche in only his second year in France, which lasted from 1966, to 1968. In the year that he ditched Laroche, he was snapped up by none other than the Givenchy house of design.

Then in 1969 he moved to New York City to work for Geoffrey Beene and two years later, after earning a good deal of capital, he set up his first creative studio – the Miyake Design Studio, or MDS, in Tokyo. This wasn’t so much a place of design and production, but more a laboratory of sorts, where Miyake started experimenting with various blends of fabric and synthetic textiles.

Soon after this in 1971, Miyake International Incorporated was set up and the Japanese designer launched his first collection. It was exhibited in both New York, where he was residing, and also in Tokyo.

During the ’70s Miyake’s work was largely conceptual – he pioneered a vast array of techniques, many incorporating age-old Japanese traditions – but it was the during 1980s that Miyake stirred the soul of the masses.

Making use of natural fibres and other fabrics, painstakingly researched at the Miyake Design Studio in Tokyo, his designs became hugely successful, not just in high cultural circles, either.

In the ’90s Issey Miyake is largely accepted for kicking off the pleat, which today comes and goes with fashion trends year-in and year-out. His development of the pleating theory revolved around first sewing garments, then finishing them, and finally the pleating.

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