Issey Miyake, a Fashion Designer Who Saw the Future, Is Dead at 84

Daniel SIMON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Daniel SIMON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Fashion designer and couture pioneer Issey Miyake has passed away at the age of 84, his design office shared on Tuesday.

Miyake, who over the course of his prolific career built one of the miyake” data-ylk=”slk:most successful” class=”link “>most successful Japanese fashion brands in history, embodied considerable knowledge of the inner workings of clothing. He also possessed a mercenary creativity reflected by his most recognizable designs: narrow, elegant pleating and the iconic black turtlenecks worn by Steve Jobs.

The cause of Miyake’s death, according to Miyake Design Office, was liver cancer, the AP reported. A private funeral has already been held; a public memorial service will not be held.

The designer was born in Hiroshima in 1938, and after getting his start in graphic design, he went on to study dressmaking and tailoring at l’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, a famed fashion school in Paris. Prominent apprenticeships followed, and after he founded Miyake Design Studio in 1970, people began to take notice in earnest.

Nowadays, deconstructed fabrics, intentional holes and misaligned sleeves are as commonplace on the street as they are on the runway. Miyake, like fellow rebel genius Alexander McQueen, was one of the key figures who anticipated and drove this shift. Looking at his ready-to-wear collection from Spring 1995—the layered, smock-like dresses over flimsy cardigans, the pastel color-blocked shirts, the simple minidresses—each look blends seamlessly into the present with Miyake’s singular brand of sly clairvoyance. Miyake’s delicate ribbed draping was both achingly chic and the last word in flattering.

Miyake was cognizant of his initial outsider status, and also knew its power. “I realized that my very disadvantage, lack of western heritage, would also be my advantage,” he explained at the Japan Society in San Francisco in 1984. “I was free of Western tradition or convention. The lack of western tradition was the very thing I needed to create contemporary and universal fashion.”

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