News & Runway

Designer Dossier: Issey Miyake

Much like the film industry, the fashion industry can be separated into big budget crowd-pleasing designers (not to denigrate their talent—we love them, too) and designers of the independent, avant garde variety. Think of it like the difference between the Iron Man films and something like Blue Valentine. Issey Miyake belongs to the latter set. While he isn't new to the high fashion block, his label's foray into abstraction while still producing wearable clothing is noteworthy at least, and history making at most. 

Miyake was born in 1938 and is, to date, the most senior member of our Designer Dossier series. He studied and worked in New York and Paris before returning to his native Japan to begin his own label. While he is no longer the head designer of his eponymous design house, his influence on fashion and his individual approach to it can't be overstated. According to Tim Blanks, "There's always been as much science as there is art in an Issey Miyake collection." Miyake was succeeded by designer Dai Fujiwara in 2007. In 2011, Fujiwara passed the reins on to Yoshiyuki Miyamae whose first collection was presented for Spring 2012.

Remember Steve Jobs' simple black turtleneck and jeans uniform? Miyake was responsible for the turtlenecks. All of them. One of Fujiwara's design concepts centers around creating looks from one continuous piece of cloth, devoid of any sewing or cutting. The concept was called "A Piece of Cloth" and at the time, Bloomberg Businessweek pronounced that Fujiwara, and therefore Miyake, were of the most powerful people in fashion. In 2010, the Issey Miyake fall collection, designed by Fujiwara, was a collaboration with famous mathematician  William Thurston. The result: technicolor chunky knits modeled after Thurston's geometric models for the shape of the universe. Before you let your head spin too much over such heavy notions, take a look at Miyamae's recent designs to see the Miyake commitment to clothing that is both intellectual and beautiful at the same time.