2 of my favorite fashion designers. Coco Chanel & Issey Miyake

Kazumaru Miyake born in Hiroshima, Japan, 22 April 1938.

Education: Studied at Tama Art University, Tokyo, 1959-63, and at École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, 1965.

Career: Design assistant, Guy Laroche, 1966-68, and Givenchy, 1968-69; designer, Geoffrey Beene in New York, 1969-70; established Miyake Design Studio in Tokyo, 1970; theater designer, from 1980; first U.S. boutique opened, New York, 1988; director, Issey Miyake International, Issey Miyake and Associates, Issey Miyake Europe, Issey Miyake USA, and Issey Miyake On Limits; lines include Issey Sport, Plantation, Pleats Please (introduced, 1993), and A-POC (introduced, 1999); A-POC stores opened in Tokyo and Paris, 2000; new HQ and store in TriBeCa, 2001; fragrances include L'Eau d'Issey, 1992; L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme, 1995; Le Feu d'Issey, 1998. Exhibitions: Issey Miyake and Twelve Black Girls, Tokyo and Osaka, 1976; Issey Miyake in the Museum, Seibu Museum, Tokyo, 1977; A Piece of Cloth, Tokyo, 1977; Fly With Issey Miyake, Tokyo and Kyoto, 1977; East Meets West, International Design Conference, Colorado, 1979; Les Tissus Imprimés d'Issey Miyake, Musée de l'Impression sur Étoffes, Mulhouse, 1979; Intimate Architecture: Contemporary Clothing, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1982; Bodyworks, international touring exhibition, 1983; A New Wave in Fashion: Three Japanese Designers, Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona, 1983; Issey Miyake Bodyworks: Fashion Without Taboos, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1985; Á Un, Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, 1988; Issey Miyake Pleats Please, Touko Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 1990; Ten Sen Men, Touko Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 1990; Twist, Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum, 1992; Making Things, Paris, 1999.

Awards: Japan Fashion Editors Club award, 1974; Mainichi Newspaper Fashion award, 1976, 1984; Pratt Institute Design Excellence award, New York, 1979; Council of Fashion Designers of America award, 1983; Fashion Oscar, Paris, 1985; Mainichi Fashion Grand Prix, 1989, 1993; Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres, France, 1989; Asahi prize, 1992; Honorary Doctorate, Royal College of Art, London, 1993; Hiroshima Art prize, 1991; Chevalier de l'Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur, Paris, 1993; Tokyo Creation award, 1994; Shiju Housho from the Japanese Government, 1997. Address: 1-23 Ohyamacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151, Japan.

Coco Chanel

Fashion designer Coco Chanel, born August 19, 1883, in Saumur, France, is famous for her timeless designs, trademark suits, and little black dresses. Chanel was raised in an orphanages and taught to sew. She had a brief career as a singer before opening her first clothes shop in 1910. In the 1920s, she launched her first perfume and introduced the Chanel suit and the little black dress.

Fashion Pioneer

Around the age of 20, Chanel became involved with Etienne Balsan who offered to help her start a millinery business in Paris. She soon left him for one of his even wealthier friends, Arthur “Boy” Capel. Both men were instrumental in Chanel’s first fashion venture.

Opening her first shop on Paris’s Rue Cambon in 1910, Chanel started out selling hats. She later added stores in Deauville and Biarritz and began making clothes. Her first taste of clothing success came from a dress she fashioned out of an old jersey on a chilly day. In response to the many people who asked about where she got the dress, she offered to make one for them. “My fortune is built on that old jersey that I’d put on because it was cold in Deauville,” she once told author Paul Morand.

In the 1920s, Chanel took her thriving business to new heights. She launched her first perfume, Chanel No. 5, which was the first to feature a designer’s name. Perfume “is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion. . . . that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure,” Chanel once explained.

In 1925, she introduced the now legendary Chanel suit with collarless jacket and well-fitted skirt. Her designs were revolutionary for the time—borrowing elements of men’s wear and emphasizing comfort over the constraints of then-popular fashions. She helped women say good-bye to the days of corsets and other confining garments.

Another 1920s revolutionary design was Chanel’s little black dress. She took a color once associated with mourning and showed just how chic it could be for eveningwear. In addition to fashion, Chanel was a popular figure in the Paris literary and artistic worlds. She designed costumes for the Ballets Russes and for Jean Cocteau’s play Orphée, and counted Cocteau and artist Pablo Picasso among her friends. For a time, Chanel had a relationship with composer Igor Stravinsky.