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Issey Miyake

Man and his Clothing 


  • Wearing cloth is relating to the emergence of human's intelligence.

    • Apart from daily needs, why does clothing have further development on aesthetics?

The Form of Cloth

What are Clothes? … A Fundamental Question  Arata Isozaki

Time line

  1. Working as an assistant to Guy Laroche

  2. Issey Miyake witnessed May Revolution in Paris 1968

  3. Working in Givenchy’s Studio

  4. Flew to New York, witness the reality of mass fashion, social phenomenon of the jeans boom 

Design returning once to its original state

1970: Miyake’s idea of “Peeling Away to the Limit". Fulfill a desire to return to the original state

1970 Beginning

  • Consisted of pieces of irregularly shaped fabric

  • Each piece was stripped away one after another until the body itself was in full view Frequently been influenced in his thinking by Madelaine Vionnet

  • “To not cut the fabric so that it fit the body, but to lay the fabric effortlessly along the lines and silhouette of the body in movement"

  • Miyake flinging a piece of fabric or a long piece of sash-like material over the body.

  • Utilized techniques such as the Japanese kimono instead of traditional European cutting method

    • Miyake abolished the generally accepted divisions between Eastern and Western, but working with the essential space, body & fabric

      • Both the fabric and the body are able to assert themselves, fabric and body become one

Inherited from the past

  • including farm clothes and designs created through necessity

    • Adapted from ancient Japan, materials such as Awashijira 阿波しじら, Inakajima 田舎縞 (手織り縞), Tamba momen 丹波木綿, and sashiko 刺し子 

awashijia/ tamba momen/ sashiko



Pewlon, an acrylic knit fabric was developed by ASAHIKASEI and first presented successfully through the designs of Issey Miyake.

Produced in 1974

Photographed by Noriaki Yokosuka 

A dress and full coat-wrap of Pewlon and wool

Produced in 1974

Photographed by Noriaki Yokosuka


An indian hand position motif printed on silk; another in the series of Yoko-o print design, Rainbow dey-printing, and Issey Miyakes clothing designs.

Produced in 1976

Photographed by Noriaki Yokosuka


A separate stole with this dress of silk catches the wind as the model moves, creating a spinnaker-like shape reminsiscent of ships at sail. Another in the Yoko-o, Rainbow Studio, Issey series.

Produced in 1977

Photographed by Noriaki Yokosuka.

Issey Miyake Making Things

Clothes Beyond the Reach of Time- Kazuko Sato

  • The 60s 1968 Paris

  • The 70s trips between East and West 

  • The 80s rose international recognition [1980-88] [1989-93] (Began to concentrate his research on materials and modes of production)

  • The 90s [1994-98] Came true "to create clothes that anyone could wear."

First Period - The 60s: Fashion - A poem of Cloth and Stones

May 1960, the World Design Conference held in Tokyo

  • Saul Bass, Bruno Munari

  • While no one considered design in fashion, Miyake wrote a letter of protest to Junzo Sakakura, described the conference as “unacceptable”

  • His idea were given tangible expression by the show A Poem of Cloth and Stone, he produced in 1963

    • Advanced the idea of a “visual fashion”:

      • A reflection on the way that design and fashion appear in advertising photographs 

      • An attempt to capture the way fashion is presented in magazines

“The idea behind this show is totally different from the objective we habitually have - that’s to say, presenting clothes that have been made to be worn. Moreover, in Japan, the distinction between “fashion” and “trend” is very vague, so this show also aims to clearly define them both."

  • Fashion: original works each having an intrinsic value 

  • Trends: born popular styles, those of the street

    • “The role of the designer is to create fashion and then to help it trickle down onto the street."

Second Period - The 70s: Constructible Clothes

The Japanese Tradition

From the 70s onwards, began to be interested in sashiko刺し子, shijiraoriしじら織 or oniyoryu (thick cotton crepe produced by twisting it by hand in the icy waters of the Tohoku region).

“In Japan, there are remarkable techniques and materials, including mixed fabrics. But unfortunately these traditional skills are hidden in little workshops in the heart of the mountain and cannot be fully appreciated. I think the passion and the modest efforts of the people who keep alive these marvelous techniques for weaving silk and cotton are vastly important."

First half of the 70s, insatiable curiosity, inspired by traditional Japanese forms and materials

Miyake visited small workshops all across Japan to see these techniques of weaving and dyeing


Interested in the functionality of the work clothes

The Traditions of Apprenticeship and of Clothing

Ceased to belong  to any particular country 

All clothes whatever their origin: they had to allow the body total freedom of movement whilst at the same time being beautiful and practical 


  • March, took part in a fashion show, The Toray Knit Exhibition, theme was Constructible Clothes [starting point of he return to japan]

“To rediscover the traditional beauty of a Japan which is disappearing; to emphasise the importance of industrially-produced clothes by using synthetic materials; to demonstrate the secret beauty of the Japanese woman.”

  • August, Miyake founded the Miyake Design Studio (MDS) in Tokyo

  • Moved into international and timeless dimensions

  • The concept of A Piece of Cloth


  • first collection in New York, Tattoo

  • Inspired by the traditional Japanese tattoos that are made in homage to the dead (Jimi Hendrix/Janis Joplin)


  • first in Paris, a/w collection Issey Miyake 

  • Since then, two shows a year in Paris


  • awarded the 1976 Mainichi Design Award 

1978: East Meets West

  • Issey Miyake East Meets West

    • Grouped his creative activities from 1970-77

    • Undermined Eurocentered perspective 


  • Presented the East Meets West show at the International Design Conference in Aspen, USA

Arata Isozaki: The main reason for this is that clothes design has not looked beyond the limited scope of the world of fashion. The design work of Issey Miyake has not limited itself to that world alone.”

Third Period 1980-1988:

Miyake’s work spread out into art, interior design, architecture and other artistic domains 

  1. Issey Miyake Spectacle: Bodyworks (1983-85, Tokyo to London via LA and San Francisco)

  2. Issey Miyake A-ŪN (1988 at the Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris)

Issey Miyake and Irving Penn

Met in the 80s 

Penn was photographing Miyake’s designs for Vogue

Miyake never went to the photo shoot. They all took place in Penn’s studio in NY

Working as a Team: The Miyake Design Studio (MDS)

1985 the book Issey Miyake & Miyake Design Studio 1970-1985 was published, Miyake’s team became generally known:

  • Textile designer: Makiko Minagawa

  • Responsible for the images: Midori Kitamura

  • Designer: Naoki Takizawa

At the end of the 80s, Akira Onozuka and Tomio Mohri left to commence independent careers

Fourth Period 1989-1993: Lauch of Pleats Please Issey Miyake

  • The appearance of polyester and the development of increasingly functional hi-tech techniques stimulated my interest in research into synthetic clothing.”

  • “I would say that Pleats Please Issey Miyake is a comprehensive response to the evolution of the condition of women."

Fifth Period 1994-1998: Commercial Production and the Guest Artist Series 

  • "The fashion collection are the opportunity for the team to carry out its true research and apprenticeship. We all work with passion.”

  • The other line is an industrial product for which we can work in small groups and try out all sorts of combinations in serene conditions."

1996 the Guest Artist Series started

How the work of artists may be brought in to benefit clothing 

Miyake chose four artists who have worked on the body or on the theme of energy

Yasumasa Morimura:

  • Presented him a basic format 

  • Asked him how the plasticity of the body could be expressed through his work

  • He sketched out the first idea and then Miyake complete the project

  • 1996 Morimura created a series of dresses printed his own body interwoven with Ingre’s painting La Source

    • Interrogate the relationship between clothing and nudity

  • Morimura’s Doll, 1998, plastic

Nobuyoshi Araki:

  • Miyake was very interested in the “pornographic” aspect of Araki’s works

    • “Something indecent about the clothes when they are worn”

    • Araki’s 1997 pieces are built around the theme of memory

      • Appearing then disappearing 

        • Printed the image before or after the item of clothing has been pleated, thus the photographs were revealed or concealed depending on the movement of the body

    • Iro Shōjo, 1997, electrostatic print on polyester 

Tim Hawkinson:

  • He explores different ways of representing the body

    • In Bathtub Generated Contour Lace and Hangmanofmycircumference 1995

      • He shows his own image in a lacy network of lines, cut up into strips and then reproduced on squared paper

      • The third motif of this series takes its inspiration from Eye Globe (1992)

    • The pneumatic Quilt, 1997, fabric, plastic, photographs, ink on paper, generator

Cai Guo-Qiang:

  • Did a performance for the Issey Miyake Making Things exhibition 

    • In 1998, Can used explosive powder as a pigment. The burn marks then provided a motif to be printed 

    • Dragon—Explosion on Issey Miyake Pleats Please, a performance presented on 5 October 1998 at the Foundation Cartier pour l’art contemporain (the burns were reproduced ohototgraphically with advance printing techniques on white pleated clothes)

“I never intended to make uniform products. Just as everyone’s face is different, it’s right and proper that every product should have its own characteristics. Functionality is essential, of course, but humor, emotion and originality are also indispensable.”

Miyake is a fan of Swatch watches

The Fusion of Industrial and Craft Techniques: Humour and Emotion

Traditional crafts and industry are equally important for Miyake 

“I think that industry and crafts should become even more interdependent, but I am opposed to those craftspeople who have become detached from the functional product. There are many accomplished craftspeople who continue to make traditional objects but this meaningless if the objects don’t also have a function."

Meeting people 

“I learn an enormous amount from the way people behave. One can never draw energy from inside a work of art once it is complete.”

Shiro Kuramata:

  • Had an important influence on the collection Bodyworks

Lucie Rie

Ettore Sottsass 

Tadao Ando 

Isamu Noguchi

William Forsythe 

Shuntaro Tanikawa 

Issey Miyake Making Things: 1998

“Designers must aim to address the problems of the environment. They must demonstrate their willingness to do this.”

  • Creating things that make life more agreeable in today’s society and less burdensome in tomorrow’s.

“As soon as a designer aspires to celebrity, he is destined to fail. I think that the greatest achievement of the designer would be to disappear entirely into anonymity.”

“Why this item of clothing? How was this price decided upon? Why has it been made like this? That is the responsibility of the designer towards a consumer who has given him trust.“

”People refer to clothes that no one can wear as being ‘avant-garde’ -- but that’s not really true. People always refer to the past when they speak, but I just happen to think that the present is a bit behind itself”

Issey Miyake Interview

But the most important thing for me is to show that, ultimately, technology is no the most important thing: it is always our brains, our thoughts, our hands, our bodies which express the most essential things. 


The essential thing, the foundation of all expression, after all, is still that which human beings create, the emotion they can provoke.


A designer cannot be understood if he relies solely on his own ego.


What I wish to express through Making Things is that I create, not to express my ego, my personality, but to try and bring answers to those who are asking themselves questions about our age and how we should live in it. 

我希望通过Making Things表达的是,我创造而不是表达我的自我,我的个性,而是试图为那些问自己关于我们的年龄以及我们应该如何生活的人提供答案。

Whether or not one wears clothes is no the main concern. The important thing is to communicate. When there is no dialogue, no exchange, creativity becomes impossible.


Instead of thinking about how clothes were made I started to think about how they were used: I wanted to create a garment which would be in harmony with life, which would be light and easily cared for. 


However diverse they might be, all my research has one aim: to touch the general public. 


The pages of magazines are full of new tings, and necessarily so, but what’s genuinely innovative, and what the general public is really concerned with, is what comes from life itself.


I would also like those who wear my clothes to feel free to adapt them and recreate them in their own way.


In fact at the moment I constantly return to the theme of undressing and the naked body.


Colours are very important: they control the emotions, have the ability to calm or stimulate. They resonate with the emotions.


Certain people think that the definition of design is the beauty of the useful, but in my own work I want to integrate feelings, emotion. You have to put life into it. 



Colombe (SS 1991)

A square of fabric cut under heat transforms, without any needle or thread, into a wrap folds round and envelops the body

Dunes (SS 1998)

Immense clothes are brought down to human scale by soaking them in a chemical bath which permanently couples the material and gives it an airy, trembling texture similar to silk papers, gauze or amber tulle.

Tubed Veil (SS 1998)

A long tube of smoke-like material is partially soaked in a shrinking agent and then folded and wound in a double thickness round the body.

Prism Collage (AW1997)

With a mechanical process, colored pigments are applied in layers and in clusters to a large square of plain fabric. The fabric absorbs the color as a series of irregular, free-flowing waves which evokes representational motifs.

Just Before

A development of the technique of Just Before. (A Piece of Cloth) presents itself in the form of a tube of knit which one can cut ignorer to create one’s own panoply.


Issey Miyake: Design for Feel (2015)


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