The cutting class.
iPad not letting me link photos, but they delve into the fabrication nicely. So please do read.
flaunt the imperfection
A brief biography of Y’s as told by Yohji Yamamoto
Yohji Yamamoto among fabric rails, Tokyo, 1981
Phototography: Takeyoshi Tanuma
Some dates to take note of:
1943 – Yohji Yamamoto is born in Tokyo, Japan
1966 – Yohji Yamamoto graduates from Keio University, Tokyo
1969 – Yohji Yamamoto graduates from Bunka Fashion College, Tokyo
1972 – Yohji Yamamoto establishes Y’s Company Ltd
1977 – The first Y’s collection is presented in Tokyo
2002 – The first Y’s collection is presented in Paris
2012 – 40th Anniversary of Y’s
But, what’s in a biography? What kind of providence hides behind these succinct dates and the matter-of-fact information that accompanies them? What remains of a human history when it has been stripped and reduced to a handful of numbers and letters? Who’s Y’s? Let’s find out.
1943 – Yohji Yamamoto is born in Tokyo, Japan:
“Because I was born during the war everything was in ruins. I really didn’t know what Japan meant, what Tokyo meant, what tradition meant – everything was destroyed. The generation of the children of the war must have been very angry. At the same time, because of Japan being totally ruined, we had nothing, no roots, so different from the situation in Paris. If a young French architect wanted to build something in Paris, he had so many regulations to deal with. But in Japan we had nothing, so we also had a great freedom.”
1966 – Yohji Yamamoto graduates from Keio University, Tokyo:
“In my youth I wanted to become a painter. Thinking about how furiously my mother worked to support me, though, prevented me from choosing that path to certain destitution. Eventually, to please my mother, I studied to enter one of the prestigious universities that the rich boys attended. Not surprisingly, about my third year there, it lost all meaning for me and I found myself despondent.”
1969 – Yohji Yamamoto graduates from Bunkafukuso Gakuin, Tokyo:
“After graduating university and finding myself without direction I casually suggested to my mother that I help her in the shop. She was furious. The reaction was only natural, as she had expected me to leave the university and transition smoothly into a job at a fine company. She lectured me, insisting that if I was serious about the work I should at least learn how to cut cloth. I enrolled in a vocational school for dressmaking and, jostled on all sides by women acquiring the skill in order to improve their marriage prospects, I spent my days tediously pinning fabric while pondering the question of what constitutes a proper profession for a man.”
1972 – Yohji Yamamoto establishes Y’s Company Ltd:
“Y’s is taken from Yohji’s, just like Tom’s or John’s. I simply wanted it as my brand’s name so that I could quietly work in the studio behind it. When I started making clothes, all I wanted was for women to wear men’s clothes. I jumped on the idea of designing coats for women. It meant something to me – the idea of a coat guarding and hiding a woman’s body. For me, a woman who is absorbed in her work, who does not care about gaining one’s favour, strong yet subtle at the same time, is essentially more seductive. The more she hides and abandons her femininity, the more it emerges from the very heart of her existence.”
1977 – The first Y’s collection is presented in Tokyo:
“At the time I was young, I felt like I was fighting against something. I wanted to break everything: the system, the conditions, the market. Japanese people didn’t accept my creations at all. They kept asking me: ‘Why are you making such clothes? They’re not like the ones from Paris or Milan, your things are not fashion.’”
2002 – The first Y’s collection is presented in Paris:
The main reason I continue to do this is because I want to shout ‘Here I am!’, to show myself, it’s a very basic intuition. But as a fashion designer I’m not very interested in fashion, trends or marketing. What’s next? I hate that. As you know, the market in the world has become fast, fast, fast, cheap, cheap, cheap. It’ s very far from me. My job sometimes is just to wait.”
2012 – 40th Anniversary of Y’s:
“I think the most important thing is that I have to continue to do the same thing, to send out the same message, to remind people that I am still here. Then people who are not so enamoured by the market might think, ‘Yohji always does something creative, he doesn’t follow fashion or the trends, he has never followed fashion or the trends’. Maybe I can be like that. Maybe that’s enough. To keep on going by myself, for myself, and hope that makes a difference to the people who doubt. But being called a ‘master’ makes me feel ambivalent. To be skilled and experienced means that I’m old, and this is what causes my ambivalence. But today beautiful things are disappearing every day. I want to keep it back. I want to say don’t go too far, too easily. Take it easy. This is my law.”
"It is not money that makes you well dressed: it is understanding."
Last edited by softgrey; 05-10-2014 at 09:32 PM.
|1 Week Ago|
Pretty cool Yohji editorial, via subway123 in the Bon S/S 2015 thread:
Click here: Yohji Yamamoto: A Retrospective
I'm not posting pictures on this forum anymore, sorry But you can download the UHQ images via the download button in the lower right on the page.
|3 Days Ago|
flaunt the imperfection
here is an interview from 2001- the season when he launched the adidas x yohji yamamoto which ld to the creation of Y-3...
The Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto is famous for changing the face of fashion forever with his uncompromisingly avant-garde aesthetic - so what is he doing producing trainers for Adidas? Susan Irvine travels to Tokyo
BY Susan Irvine | 18 September 2001
IT is with some trepidation that I step into the Yohji Yamamoto shop on Conduit Street in London. Yohji (never 'Yamamoto' in fashionspeak) is no ordinary designer. No one vulgar or merely famous wears his clothes. You don't get Posh Spice or even Gwyneth Paltrow turning up at events in a Yohji wooden balldress fastened with nuts and bolts, or an asymmetric frock-coat of obscurely textured fabric. His clients are architects, choreographers, avant-garde film directors - subject matter for the South Bank Show.
It's like Gormenghast in the shop. Blighted. Practically every item of clothing is black or inky blue. With his fellow-Japanese designer, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, Yohji established black as the fashion statement colour in 1981. Until then, apart from le smoking and 'the little black dress' there were few black clothes for women. But by the mid-1980s, thanks to Yohji and Comme des Garçons, working women everywhere were building their wardrobes round black. In Japan Yohji fans became known as 'the black crows'.
'Bag lady' was the other innovation of these Japanese designers. Instead of basing clothes on the shape of the body, they made volumes that defied it or treated it as just another shape. Instead of jackets and skirts, Yohji designs bunches, convolutions and drapes that flop round the hangers in unfathomable layers. This autumn, after many seasons of a more romantic style, he has returned to full-scale challenge. In the shop, I gather up great loops and coils of melancholy and shuffle to the changing-room.
For his current collection, Yohji has collaborated with the sportswear giant Adidas . Coming from anyone else this would elicit loud yawns throughout the fashion world; designers have been massively influenced by sportswear since the mid-1980s. But , and I see why. He has taken the hackneyed theme of go-faster stripes and tracksuit shapes and created something genuinely new.
I slip into a skirt. It is long, made of black silk and has a ribbed wool waistline like a sweater collar that slips down the hips in an asymmetric line. It is beautiful, caressing, practical. Next I try on a tracksuit top with a wizened arm set not into the shoulder but into a circle plonked further down the body. It should look art-student pretentious; instead it's arresting. Yohji has also used sportswear fabrics in unexpected places. There is a coat with a familiar black nylon mesh on the lapels. It nags at me until I realise what it is: the stuff used to line men's swimming trunks.
I also pick up what looks like a white wrap shirt. I try to fasten it across the front. I turn it backwards and slide it on like a fencing jacket. Nothing works. I stick my head out of the curtain and flag down a busy saleswoman.
'I can't figure this out,' I say. 'Put things on the way you least expect them to go,' she rasps, hurrying off. 'I've done that. I've got it on backwards.' She swivels with an exasperated look. 'Backwards and upside down,' she says. Yohji, after all, is the designer whose clothes come with sets of drawings to show you what goes where.
Backwards and upside down, the shirt forms a crunchy puff tied with two ratty strings. It looks like some ancient washerwoman's rag. It costs £200. But then it is the only washerwoman's rag in the world that can confer an unexpected and quiet beauty on your body.
'Dolls? this is what many men like women to be. Just dolls,' says Yohji, who is sipping black coffee and smoking a Hi-Lite in his Tokyo showroom. Before setting off to meet him, I had been told by fashion insiders that he was, variously, a Lothario, a Zen monk, and a practical joker. Several women warned me that he is the sexiest man alive. Further researches provided the information that he sings with a rock band, loves gambling and fast cars, and has three children by two different women.
Yohji's clothes are often accused of being unsexy. He admits to hating the exposure, the body-hugging silhouette, the high heels of the obviously sexy look. He finds women dressed like that 'terrifying, genuinely scary'.
Everything about his aesthetic, he explains, goes back to his mother, Sumi. 'I was born in 1943. I was a baby of bomb.' (His English is good but idiosyncratic.) 'Tokyo was ruined. There was nothing. I had only my mother.' His father was killed in the War. In Notebook on Clothes and Cities, a film the German director Wim Wenders made about him in 1989, Yohji says that for him the War isn't over; it's still raging inside him. 'My mother made up her mind not to get married again. So many War widows did that. They were saying, "I am going to devote myself to my son." It was tough for my mother. She was a neighbourhood dressmaker. She had to work 16 hours a day. And I felt it was not very fair, so naturally I started thinking, "What is? a woman?"'
The Yamamotos' neighbourhood was full of '"charming girls", beautiful women wearing always this sort of look [he delineates a curvy silhouette with his hands]. I looked at them and I didn't feel nothing. Because my mother was wearing working wear all the time. Her fashion was very natural for me.' He chuckles, looking into thin air and pleading with an imaginary 'charming girl': 'Please - hide it!' he says.
Yohji won a place to read law at Keio University in Tokyo. His mother had scrimped and saved to send him. But 'after studying, studying, studying, I felt empty. Very empty.' Nevertheless, it must have been hard for him to pluck up the courage to abandon law and to say to his mother, 'Can I help you? In your shop?' Mrs Yamamoto was angry. Here she was, proud of her young son, bereft of any other man, and he wanted to give up the hard-won education that symbolised his manhood and hang round her apron strings, working alongside 'the sewing girls'.
'I wanted to be like the man in The Hairdresser's Husband,' he says. In that French film a small-town nobody falls in love with a hairdresser and she with him. He just sits around, watching her cut hair all day, filled with love. Then one day, because he knows he can never be happier than this, he kills himself. 'I just wanted to be there with her, guarding her, awaiting and proving how I felt for her.' He shrugs. 'I'm dreaming about it still.' His mother, now in her eighties, still lives in Tokyo. She has worked with Yohji down the years. Though it is rare to hear a grown man, let alone a straight man, talk about his love for his mother like this, it doesn't sound weird - it sounds touching and truthful. And it is interesting that the profound, and in many ways feminist, changes Yohji has wrought on two decades of fashion should have grown from his respect for and experience of the single working mother.
Mrs Yamamoto insisted that if Yohji was going to work with her, he had to learn how to cut clothes. And in 1966 he enrolled as a dress-making student at Bunka Mura, Tokyo's respected fashion college. There he realised that by entering competitions to sketch outfits he could make money. 'I entered maybe seven or eight. I got money! So naturally I began to swerve into this road.' It was only while preparing the final contest at Bunka Mura that he made the firm choice to become a fashion designer and not a dressmaker. He won first prize, a round-the-world trip.
Yohji set off for Paris, but didn't take the traditional route. He crossed the Sea of Japan to Siberia, crossed Russia by train and came down from the north. In Paris he felt he had come home. He describes a very male city.
'I like the smell of Gitanes. I like real old French men going [he puts on a Gitane- ravaged voice], "Haw, eh? Voilà!? Allez!" Male. And dirty. Lovely dirty.'
He stayed for a year, unable to speak more than a few phrases of French, and knew no one. 'I was sinking into a black hole,' he says, his head sagging over his cigarette. 'Depression! I couldn't talk to anyone, so I talked to myself.' He was, he says, lost in every way. He had studied fashion in the late 1960s, in the last days when haute-couture ruled, but in Paris in the early 1970s, with the advent of prêt-à-porter, everything was different.
'Twice a week I took sketches of clothes to magazines and to big stores,' he recalls. 'Some people were gentle and warm. Others were hard.' Did anyone ever accept the sketches? 'No,' he says, firmly. Paris was not interested.
So he returned to Tokyo, and for almost three years helped his mother in her business. But he dreamed of creating his own clothes. His first idea was men's clothes for women; he was inspired by old French war movies starring actresses in army uniform.
'I found that so sexy. The body is protected. And covered. In a very hard way. And so you are forced to ask yourself: "What's inside? What is her skin like? What texture? What colour?" I was? seducted. When you are ordered to wear something, when you have no freedom, then your sexuality becomes stronger.' Because of the restriction, the repression?
I ask. 'Yeah!' he shoots a sly grin.'This became my basic idea of fashion for women.'
For seven years Yohji worked on his own lines of clothes, selling them in Japan. Then in 1981, along with Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, he was invited to show in Paris. It's hard, now, to understand the shock value of those shows. Kawakubo, Yohji's girlfriend in the early 1980s, has always been the more severely avant-garde of the two designers. To the sound of a magnified heartbeat, she sent out models in shapeless bags decorated with burnt-edged holes. Yohji chose the sound of silence. His models looked like manic depressives who had been on a rampage through an obese person's wardrobe. There were military details, great flapping folds of fabric, sombre colours. The models stomped out flat-footed. The reaction was bafflement boiling over into outrage. A third of the audience got up and left.
'It was Hiroshima look? baggy? dirty? terrible,' chuckles Yohji, remembering the press reaction, 'Sayonara!' Back then, fashion was still dominated by a bourgeois French ideal of style. Smart little jackets and skirts, chic accessories, pretty print dresses? It was this kind of 'good taste' European style that Yohji and his mother had been copying for years for their neighbourhood clients.
Though his collection was interpreted as nihilistic, post-punk destructiveness and deliberate ugliness, it changed fashion forever. By the mid-1980s, without having heard of Yohji Yamamoto, I was wandering round college in a long black baggy dress, flat ankle boots and a big felt hat that obscured half of my face. In a 1997 book on the designer, the French fashion journalist François Baudot compares, only a little pretentiously to British ears, Yohji's approach with that of Arte Povera, the Italian art movement of the 1960s that rejected superficially shiny and attractive surfaces in favour of humble substances like coal, rags, mud and wood shavings. 'Yohji Yamamoto? was one of a small number of designers who tried to break away from a fossilised conception of what clothes were,' writes Baudot.
"It is not money that makes you well dressed: it is understanding."
|3 Days Ago|
flaunt the imperfection
Now Yohji is universally revered as a master. He is also envied by other designers because he achieved something that very few of them pull off - without compromising his hardline vision, he has kept himself afloat financially for 30 years. Today his business turns over £85 million annually and he has seven stores and more than 140 outlets globally. His financial stability is due partly to the success in the Far East of his less experimental diffusion lines (Y's, the best of these, is available in Britain at Selfridges). His menswear, launched in 1984, is hugely successful, too, the baggy suits and clumpy shoes a sort of new establishment uniform for what the advertising industry refers to as 'creatives'.
By the early 1990s, though, Yohji had fallen somewhat from his position as an avant-garde leader, and was being overtaken by Belgian deconstructionist designers such as Martin Margiela. Yohji's return to preeminence began in 1997 with a collection, rather surprisingly, inspired by 1950s couture. Down the catwalk came little Chanel-type suits and Dior-inspired coats - the very things he rejected when he blasted his way on to the scene in 1981. 'I was playing,' he says now of the dreamy, feminine visions he has pursued in the past four years. 'Playing with the idea of haute couture. I was saying, "OK, you want haute couture? Here it is!" It's not hard to do. Mademoiselle Chanel and Monsieur Dior are gone, but their names are treated like? [he looks up at the roof of the showroom in veneration]. It's a curse if your name is treated as a label forever.'
Now, with this new sportwear-inspired collection, he says he is returning to the spirit of his first show in Paris, 20 years ago. The wheel has come full circle. But whether he likes it or not, Yohji has now joined companies like Chanel and Dior: he has become a brand - one that represents authenticity, resistance to orthodoxy, enigmatic cool - and it's worth a lot of money. It is presumably from these connections that the mass market Adidas hopes to benefit. Some of the trainers he has designed for his current collection are signed Yohji Yamamoto alongside the three Adidas stripes: in the fashion world Yohji's signature is far more alluring than that of a sports star. There were huge waiting lists for these shoes long before they reached the shops. Given that he has just been telling me how 'the label aspect of sportwear is treating people like fools', I am surprised. It seems like a bit of a sell-out. He shrugs. 'My signature makes money. Yeah. And gives status. I played a very small game. It was risky.' But he also says that he is considering leaving the signature off the second run of trainers he is designing with Adidas, which are due out next spring.
Back in London, I watch a video of Yohji's most recent show, in March. It's unedited, so I can hear the conversations in the photographers' pen. Catwalk photographers are predominantly male and notoriously chauvinistic; they like a glimpse of bare breast, rather than severe, intellectual design. 'Awww, nonnnn,' I hear a gruff voice groan. 'Pas de musique.' 'Oh sheeet,' sighs another, 'What time is it?' In the silence, the models stomp flat-footed down the catwalk. Someone announces he's slipping away to get some cappuccinos.
But then a silence falls in the photographers' pack. They stop shuffling and sighing, there's a feeling of absorption. Finally a deep voice rumbles above the whirring shutters: 'After all,' it says, 'thees ees so chic, no?' And a grudging, gruff, Gitane-smoking Frenchman is felled by an image of womanhood that grew out of a Japanese war widow's weeds.
"It is not money that makes you well dressed: it is understanding."