Spotlight On: Issey Miyake
With some of the world’s most popular and most famous fragrances to his name, Issey Miyake may well be a name you associate with L’Eau D’issey Eau de Parfum or its male counterpart and successor, L’Eau D’Issey pour Homme. But the Issey Miyake collection and Issey Miyake Aftershave came into an already well-established and very successful fashion career, and his fashion and fragrance brands also happen to share several similarities in style and inspiration.
This brief history of Issey Miyake will take you around the globe and from fashion to fragrance.
Inspired from an Early Age
Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake’s love of fashion began when he was still a child. Catching glimpses of fashion magazines brought into the home by his sister provided him with the early inspiration he needed to kickstart a career that would span decades and industries, win awards and be recognised around the world.
Issey Miyake’s first fragrances didn’t appear until the 90s, but his career began decades earlier, after he gained a degree in graphic design from the Tama Art Studio in Tokyo in 1964. Moving to Paris to study tailoring and dressmaking at the world-renowned French school, Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, Miyake’s choice to spend time honing his skills paid off when he became an apprentice to French fashion designer Guy Roche in 1966.
By 1970, Miyake was back in Japan and selling his own pieces under his own name. With designs that mixed inter-continental cultures and took inspiration from art, fashion, dance and geometry, his style and skill were quickly recognised and it wasn’t long before New York department store Bloomingdales had a department dedicated to his brand.
A Take Off in Textiles
Beginning with women’s clothing, Miyake’s designs displayed sleek lines and fine materials combined with an emphasis on movement – of the clothes and their wearer. He often used dancers to showcase his pieces as they could show both the ease of movement provided by his designs and the movement of the garment upon the wearer.
Issey Miyake’s first men’s fashion came just 3 years after opening his Tokyo design studio. Focused on the same sense of freedom and finery, it was a distinctive collection of loose and comfortable but stylish pieces and Miyake’s exploration of techniques and styles did not end there.
One of his most recognised and iconic lines, Pleats Please, which was developed in the 80s and distributed as a collection in 1993, contributed to Issey Miyake being awarded the Kyoto Prize in Arts & Philosophy for lifetime achievement in 2005.
The first fashion designer to do so, the organisation awarding the prize noted that the Miyake’s design and technique to create pleats allowed for unrestricted body movement whilst the fabric kept to its form.
Issey Miyake also explored fashion from different angles, allowing him to create concepts that broke barriers and norms and secured his name a place in the fashion halls of fame. His APOC (a piece of cloth) concept machine weaves garments from a single piece of thread, and his insistence on combining art and fashion have led to some truly beautiful and innovative creations.
Scents of Direction
The move to fragrance came in the early 90s, with the debut scent for women, L’Eau D’issey Eau de Parfum, hitting the shelves in 1992. With his fashion success and with the brand so well-known, people simply wondering “what does Issey Miyake smell like?” was advertisement in itself, and the scent instantly made as much of an impression as his fashion had.
L’Eau D’Issey Eau de Parfum became an international best seller, with particular popularity in the US, and the influence for a wave of oceanic-inspired scents that came to follow it throughout the 1990s. Inspired by a Japanese custom, shoubo yu, during which people bathe in Iris leaves, it is a light and fresh scent with delicate notes and a fresh, aquatic feel.
That same emphasis on fine materials and a feeling of freedom and freshness that marked out his fashion also runs like a thread through his fragrances, with luxurious ingredients and fragrances that put people in mind of fresh air and open spaces.
Top 10, Again and Again
In 1994 the debut scent was followed by a fragrance for men, L’Eau D’Issey Pour Homme. Another aquatic-feeling fragrance, it shares the understated elegance of the original, with an extra hint of spicy and citrus accords to give it a fresh and masculine edge. This was another hit and was consistently present on top-10 lists throughout the 90s.
Although there were a few scents for both men and women released between 94-04, in 2006, Miyake came back to the fragrance arena with whole ranges of perfumes and aftershaves with different flavours but all sharing that same fresh and delicate aura that made the very first so popular.
As well as his own work in fashion and fragrance, Issey Miyake always found the time, energy and passion to help other young designers get a foot on ladder. Taking on several young designers of fashion, art and architecture over the course of his career, he allowed them to explore and develop their own aesthetic and skills whilst creating for him.
With an enormous 108 scents released before his death in August 2022, Issey Miyake may have arrived in fragrance later than many, but he more than made up for it once he got there. His legacy and his fragrances will undoubtedly live on for many years to come and his fashion innovations changed the industry in his lifetime, with his pleating technique being taken on by many other tailors and dressmakers.
Our Issey Miyake collection of perfumes and aftershaves has what we consider to be the best available, all with huge discounts applied as standard. 25 outstanding perfumes, aftershaves and gift sets hand picked with you in mind.
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