Issey Miyake, who achieved international fame through his pleated designs and revolutionized the fragrance industry, has died at the age of 84. Throughout his history-making career, the Japanese designer found fans in seminal figures across disciplines and eras. Despite his flair for the avant-garde, he was a designer for all.
Miyake’s most famous fan, of course, was Apple founder Steve Jobs. The tech pioneer wore Miyake’s black turtlenecks almost like a second skin, crafting an enduring personal image through the simple garment. But Miyake was not only for the straight laced. In fact, the knowledge that Miyake was behind that indelible sweater may come as a surprise to those who are familiar with his runway collections. Other notable devotees include architect Zaha Hadid, singer Solange Knowles, and Kim Kardashian.
Pop culture’s obsession with Miyake arguably began with Grace Jones. The entertainer has turned to Miyake frequently throughout her career, wearing his most daring, and sculptural, designs. There were molded bustiers from Miyake’s popular fall 1980 collection, tonal looks, and three-dimensional durags. In fact, Jones credits Miyake in her memoir for seriously boosting her career. The designer cast her in the daring (at the time) 1976 show “12 Black Women.” Jones’ club art kid spin on Miyake lives on. One of Jones’s most memorable Miyake looks—a straw hat the size of a flying saucer—was referenced in the visuals surrounding Beyoncé’s latest album, Renaissance.
Today, vintage Miyake designs have become a go-to for celebrities who want to signal their appreciation for fashion history (and stay comfortable in the process). No surprise then that Rihanna, a walking fashion bible, wore a billowy 1978 “wind suit” by Miyake for her 2015 Rock In Rio set. Or that Kim Kardashian once casually wore a vintage Miyake piece while shopping in Calabasas. In the lush video for “Cranes in the Sky,” singer Solange Knowles recreated a series of connected 1999 dresses that turn models into a human centipede of sorts. And recently rising pop titan Doja Cat wore a sculptural Issey Miyake design on the red carpet, the fabric on the legs blooming out like butterfly wings.
Miyake was likely happy to witness this varied embrace of his clothes; He appreciated the equalitarian potential of clothes. Ash vogue‘s Luke Leitch writes in a tribute to the designer, “Issey Miyake, creator of the world’s most famous black turtleneck, but also much, much more along the way, will be remembered as one of our period’s greatest designers—both within the realm of fashion design and beyond it.”