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Revolutionary Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake dies at 84 after cancer battle

Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, pictured here at a show in Paris in 2009, died in Tokyo at the age of 84 after a battle with liver cancer. File Photo by Eco Clement/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/e85e69e4c4c6deab90ac917d212f777c/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, pictured here at a show in Paris in 2009, died in Tokyo at the age of 84 after a battle with liver cancer. File Photo by Eco Clement/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Issey Miyake, a tour de force of Japanese style and fashion for more than five decades, has died after a battle with liver cancer. He was 84.

Miyake's design studio announced his death, which occurred last Friday in Tokyo. A small private funeral was held, but no other details were released.

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Miyake, who once designed the iconic black turtlenecks worn by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, was an intensely private man and it was not immediately known whether he was survived by family.

Internationally recognized for using unlikely materials like paper, foil, plastics and metals to layer apparel, Miyake pushed the limits of culture and femininity in his work but he didn't want to be known as just a fashion designer.

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"Design needs to express hope," he once said according to BBC News.

"Designing is like a living organism in that it pursues what matters for its well-being and continuity."

His pioneering work in fabrics led to his most wildly popular design line -- The Pleats, Please -- in 1993, a line that was impervious to wrinkles.

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Even more popular are his accessories, including watches, perfumes and the distinctive Bao Bao line of vinyl, triangular patterned handbags.

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Considered one of the world's most successful designers, Miyake was born in 1938 and was just 7 when the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. Three years later, his mother succumbed to radiation exposure.

"When I close my eyes, I still see things no one should ever experience," he wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times in 2009.

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As a boy, Miyake aspired to become a professional dancer, but his destiny took an artistic turn after discovering his sister's collection of fashion magazines.

He went on to study graphic design at Tokyo art university in the late 1950s, and by the 1960s he was in Paris collaborating with other fashion giants like Guy Laroche and Hubert de Givenchy.

In 1970, he opened the Miyake Design Studio in Tokyo, where he'd put his signature on the fashion world for a half-century. By the 1980s, Miyake had become a household name in fashion and he unveiled his trademark micro pleated clothing in 1988.

Later, he designed Lithuania's uniforms for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Spain -- and received the prestigious Kyoto Prize for contributions to the arts. Miyake also was awarded the Japanese Order of Culture in 2010 -- Japan's highest artistic honor -- for "remarkable accomplishments."

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