27 April 2011

From A Dark Place

Yohji Yamamoto, and daughter, Limi Feu

Yohji Yamamoto has been hitting the PR circuit hard these days - interviews, books, exhibitions and even another documentary (sorry, but the Wim Wenders film was the apex).  With such a sudden abundance of all things Yohji, it is all too easy to forget that just two years ago his situation was bleak.  His health was poor, his company was moving into bankruptcy, and the future of his various labels, let alone his own, was uncertain to say the least.  However, just as soon, a new financial partner stepped in and Yohji signed a new twenty year contract.  It is doubtful he will even complete the twenty years, but then again he does write that he would like to pass away without fanfare whilst working.

Fashion is by its nature a tumultuous and unpredictable industry, and so when for the Spring/Summer 2010 collections it was announced that Yohji Yamamoto had fallen victim to the recession, meaning that a catwalk presentation was not to take place, things looked bad but not lost.  What we saw was a classic and commercial collection, but also perhaps a glimpse into a future where Yohji is no longer at the helm of the YYPH label.  When it comes to the Parisian collections, Yohji makes creative decisions alone, the artist working his craft.  However when it comes to the Japanese collections, Yohji is surrounded by his team, the master and his pupils - teaching and demonstrating.  Perhaps it was that team that stepped in to help create and finish this collection.

Any great designer needs a great team, because although Yohji is one of the few from his generation that still works on his knees hemming dresses and helping to draft patterns, with a company as large as Yohji Yamamoto, it is impossible to do it alone.  Indeed what many suspected of the Spring/Summer 2010 collection was that Yohji had taken a back seat, as his team had worked around him to produce to the collection.  What we saw were classic Yohji silhouettes, executed to perfection, and in production, with the exact level of quality one has come to admire in his construction.  Knowing now the extent of his financial and health concerns at the time of this collection, it is unsurprising to have seen such a safe collection.  And yet, whilst many at the time were heralding it as the possible end for Yohji himself, I saw a reminder of why I love Yohji Yamamoto.

What you see is not simply a rehashing of past collections, but rather a celebration of Yohji's style and work.  The silhouettes, the shapes, the fabrics, the details - they are all classic Yohji.  It was not so much a lack of ideas, but rather a reminder of all the ideas that make me come back to Yohji again and again.  I agree with suspicions that Yohji did not have any great deal of involvement with this collection, however knowing the skill of his team, it was a nice, simple and clean collection.  Of course taking into account the financial situation of Yohji Yamamoto at the time, it is also a highly economically-minded and commercial collection.  These were classic Yohji looks that could be easily stocked, but more importantly, easily sold.  Sometimes you have to make compromises to stay in the game - you can't always present the collection you want.  But that is not always a bad thing, and I think this collection was a perfect example of that.  It was not one of the greats, but it is was nice for stocking up on the basics.

Spring/Summer 2010



  1. He's one of the greats - lovely collection here to prove it. His situation (his company having trouble) reminds me of what happened to Christian Lacroix not so long ago - what happened to him? The last I heard he had illustrated a Cinderella story...

  2. you really are the expect on this subjects, so i just take it in and see what happens next. hope the springcourts are going good guns

  3. i'll say it again, you've got me hooked on yohji.

    i'm liking this collection quite a lot.

  4. I wish my pants looked that good rolled up!

  5. These latter pics make me think of spring.

  6. Yohji is without a doubt #1 in my fashion heart. He changed the way I thought about clothing and if I could live my life without boundaries, I would probably wear his clothing every day.

    I say that way because towards the end of his overexpansion, I found a lot of his massively overpriced... While the wool and signature poly pieces were gorgeous, many of the cotton and summer pieces were totally lacking in quality. It almost felt like he couldn't bring his vision to fruition. Hopefully this new addition to his company allows him to focus more on his work as opposed to dealing with large corporation issues.

    I really hope it works for him. Every time I pass by his old store in SoHo (now occupied by Alexander Wang), my heart feels a tiny bit heavier.

  7. i love that you called something "ace" in your last comment on my blog! (: it's such a british adjective (and a cool one at that). so many good greys going on here! yamamoto is a fun name to say

  8. Hell yes for Yoji Yamamoto. I didn't even realise he signed a 20 yr contact, that's crazy. He is indeed a talented man and it hurts knowing that I haven't visited the V&A yet for his retrospective. Damn living in Birmingham! I will have to organise myself and pop down for the day to see it. I'm sure you've been to see it already, any thoughts? Heard I might need a pair of sunglasses because the displays are so bright but I also imagine it suits the dark palettes and pick out details in the stitching etc.