Fashioning an End to Nuclear Weapons

Couture, catwalks and colorblocking. That’s right, it’s that time of year – Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City. The days of Fashion Week are spent honoring the hottest names in style, from Marc Jacobs to Max Azria to Issey Miyake, a Japanese designer and the man behind Steve Jobs’ infamous black turtleneck.

Miyake may be known for his innovative designs that fuse technology with fashion, but his life story also makes a statement to the world. On August 6, 1945, when Mikaye was seven, he witnessed and survived the infamous atomic bomb explosion in his hometown of Hiroshima. Three years later, his mother died from complications of radiation exposure.

Miyake does not like to focus on the events of his past, instead choosing to concentrate on creating things that bring happiness and joy to others. However, after President Obama made his Prague speech in 2009 calling for a world free of nuclear weapons, Miyake felt inspired and opened up about his experience in a New York Times op-ed.

As Miyake explained, “I tried never to be defined by my past. I did not want to be labeled “the designer who survived the atomic bomb,” and therefore I have always avoided questions about Hiroshima. They made me uncomfortable. But now I realize it is a subject that must be discussed if we are ever to rid the world of nuclear weapons”.

A sense of responsibility awoke in Miyake upon hearing Obama’s speech. He decided that in order to prevent us from reliving the past, he must make others aware of the pain and suffering he endured.

Miyake’s story is a reminder that nuclear weapons know no limits to those they affect. Thousands of people walk the earth today carrying reminders of the devastation caused by nuclear weapons – survivors of the explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, those exposed to weapons testing in Nevada, workers present for the horrific accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Each stride we make toward the elimination of nuclear weapons is a step closer to ensuring that no one has to carry the burden of these memories ever again.

Photo by henryjose on Flickr