Issey Miyake: Engineering Beauty
“All I want is for people to experience a sense of joy when they wear my clothes.”
If you have ever owned a garment made from one swathe of cloth, folded and cut into a shape that drapes and clings, flares and flutters, or creates an alien silhouette; that felt like a second, stranger skin, that allowed you to leap and somersault without getting a crease or showing too much flesh — and maybe even made you look like a modernist sculpture — then you have probably been lucky enough to own something created by Issey Miyake, the daddy of Japanese high fashion.
Miyake, whose 82nd birthday was last week, has been creating extraordinary yet wearable garments for people who love clothes but don’t give a fig for fashion for close to five decades now.
Miyake’s designs are unmistakable — gorgeous, futuristic and often made of curious fabric. When he started out, he was inspired by the simplicity of that ubiquitous combination: jeans and T-shirt. He wanted to make clothes as practical and universal as that.
Of course, things have evolved since then, but Miyake has always wanted to design clothes for the masses — not the few. He’s wanted his clothes to be worn, not just seen. At the same time, Miyake has kept in close touch with the technology of clothes design, using unorthodox materials — paper, recycled plastic, rayon — and new techniques, like the pleating machine, which presses those signature pleats into so many of his clothes.
That futuristic practicality shows in Miyake’s chart with quite stark simplicity. Of course, a person born with a massive stellium in Taurus might be attracted to a practical craft. Indeed, a stellium led by Mars might involve some cutting, too. But right at the heart of the stellium is Uranus, the planet of the future — or indeed time-travel. Miyake often borrows old craft skills — for example Japan’s traditional paper-making — and applies them in a high tech context.
“All of my work stems from the simplest of ideas that go back to the earliest civilisations: making clothing from one piece of cloth.” — Issey Miyake.
Venus, in her own sign, is also at the centre of this stellium, so you have in nutshell a futuristic (Uranus) artist (Venus).
Venus is also part of a grand trine with Neptune in Virgo and Moon in Capricorn. (We don’t have the birthtime, so the exact placement of the Moon is unknown, however it will be in the last 12 degrees of Capricorn. Simply as an astrological aside, the Pluto-Moon opposition is a stark symbol of the death of Miyake’s mother caused by the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of WW2.)
Neptune-Venus trine is, of course, highly artistic, but with a desire to make it real. Neptune in Virgo adds imaginative detail.
“The work of designing is to make something that works in real life.” — Issey Miyake.
Add in that ambitious, hard-working Capricorn Moon and you start to see an artist with impact — and someone who could make a lot of money from his art. Venus in Taurus must help him put the right value on his output. What’s interesting it that, with all that fixed earth, one might expect him to have stayed quite static throughout his long career. Instead, Miyake has constantly innovated and experimented. Even now, well into his seventh decade his studio — the Reality Lab! (How Uranus in Taurus is that?)— is coming up with new ways to use recycled material.
Of course, we don’t have the angles of Miyake’s chart — but surely the Uranus Venus conjunction gives him endless inventive, artistic curiosity. Couple that with the trine from a Virgoan Neptune (creative solutions).
Miyake is by all accounts a extraordinarily intelligent man, who likes to describe his work as “amusing”. Note the Mercury Rx in the heart of the Sun. (As another astrological aside, his education had to take a circuitous route — men did not study fashion design in Japan in 1960. This is sometimes the case with Mercury Rx natally, as is deep intelligence that comes from thinking things through for yourself.)
Miyake has never liked being pigeonholed as a “fashion designer” — or as a “Japanese designer” — there’s that Uranian Venus again. His aim is to clothe the masses,
Miyake’s interested in bringing other people’s ideas into his work. He is famously a collaborator with other creatives — sculptors, architects, dancers, engineers, film makers — and with people in his own studio.
“My work has always been a team process: made up of collaborations with the staff within the studio. I feel that you always see things in a different way when you allow others to become part of a creative process.” — IM
With his imminent Uranus Return on the horizon, it’ll be interesting to see how this ultimate Uranus in Taurus person responds to these current Uranus in Taurus times. Probably with some practical innovation.