He Was 7 When Hiroshima Was Bombed. Then, Design Fame

Issey Miyake, who created Steve Jobs' famous black turtlenecks, dies at 84
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2022 11:08 AM CDT
Designer Behind Steve Jobs' Turtlenecks Has Died
This photo shows Issey Miyake at the National Art Center in Tokyo on March 15, 2016.   (Kyodo News via AP)

A designer known for his high-tech yet comfortable origami-inspired designs, and who came up with the signature black turtlenecks worn by none other than Steve Jobs, has died. Miyake Design Office tells the AP that Issey Miyake died Friday of liver cancer at the age of 84, after a storied career in the fashion world that saw him rise to fame in the '70s. His innovative designs combined the traditional and modern and gained world renown, including his origami-style pleats that changed the way polyester was worn. The AP notes his "down-to-earth clothing was meant to celebrate the human body regardless of race, build, size, or age," using a variety of materials, including plastic, metal, and paper.

When he was asked by Apple co-founder Jobs to design a turtleneck for him, Miyake is said to have made 100 of them, priced at $175 each, per the BBC. In 2006, he nabbed the esteemed Kyoto Prize, Japan's highest private award for lifetime achievement in the arts and sciences. That was followed four years later with the Order of Culture, an honor bestowed upon him for his "remarkable accomplishments" in Japanese culture. Miyake died one day before the 77th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, a date that was especially relevant for him: He was just 7 years old and living in the city when the bomb was dropped, per the BBC. His mother died of radiation exposure a few years later.

"When I close my eyes, I still see things no one should ever experience: a bright red light, the black cloud soon after, people running in every direction trying desperately to escape," he wrote in a 2009 New York Times op-ed. "I remember it all." For many years he didn't talk about his ordeal, as he didn't want the label of "the designer who survived the atomic bomb." He later decided it was a topic worth talking about in an effort to get rid of nuclear weapons globally. Local media notes that a funeral for Miyake has already been held. It's not clear who his survivors are, as he remained tight-lipped on his private life. (More Issey Miyake stories.)

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