A Look Back at Issey Miyake’s Future

Issey Miyake

Nearly half a century after he opened his first design studio, Issey Miyake’s influence is still decidedly in the air – and at the center of a career-spanning exhibit at Tokyo’s National Art Center. There’s also a weighty new monograph from Taschen, which, on one of its 500-plus pages, points out that the Japanese designer, who started off in graphic design, showed up on this earth on the same year (1938) as another outsider: Superman. Somewhat supernaturally preoccupied with the future, too, Miyake’s approach to clothes has always been a bit otherworldly: Think gauzy shirts held together by just three stitches, and, of course, his ’90s Pleats Please designs, which transformed single, wrinkled pieces of polyester into pants and even tube dresses. Relive those looks and more of Miyake’s best moments here, from his indigo, sushi knife-inspired outfits on the likes of Grace Jones to his pleats on the backs of Lithuanian Olympians at their first games post-Soviet Union.


Square skirts with a Balinese floral print from the spring/summer 1974 collection. Courtesy of Taschen.


“Hocho Cut”: Grace Jones, June Murphy, Barbara Summers, and Karen Wilson wearing the spring/summer 1976 collection. Photo by Tatsuo Masabuchi, courtesy of Taschen.


A bodice woven with rattan and bamboo from the spring/summer 1982 collection, made by Kosuge Shochikudo in collaboration with Emi Fukuzawa. Photo by Yuriko Takagi, courtesy of Taschen.


An animal knit coat in alpaca wool from the fall/winter 1983 collection. (One side of a double-woven jacquard fabric was cut in places, then shrink-treated to create a rough surface.) Photo by Yuriko Takagi, courtesy of Taschen.


Double-layer dresses, or “tube veils,” from the spring/summer 1998 collection. Made of bias-cut linen sewn as a tube and double-folded at the hem, their inner layers were shrink-treated to create two different textures. Courtesy of Taschen.


From the spring/summer 1989 collection, the cicada organdy shirt is meant to be as transparent as cicada wings and shaped by folding and pleating a scarf diagonally and securing it with three stitches. Photo by Yuriko Takagi, courtesy of Taschen.


Sectioned “bamboo pleats” from the fall/winter 1989 collection. Photo by Yuriko Takagi, courtesy of Taschen.


Official uniforms for the Lithuanian team designed by Issey Miyake at the Barcelona Olympics, 1992. Photo by Valdas Malinauskas, courtesy of Taschen.


The unveiling of Pleats Please during the finale of Miyake’s spring/summer 1994 show in Paris. Photo by Philippe Brazil; courtesy of Taschen.


A horizontally pleated coat shaped to mimic the tents of Central Asian nomads from the spring/summer 1995 collection. Courtesy of Taschen.


Wooly nylon knit stripes from the fall/winter 1996 collection. Photo by Yuriko Takagi, courtesy of Taschen.