In fashion there are models, there are collections, there are garments, there are shows and then, of course there are designers. But sometimes you come across a so-called fashion designer who could be more accurately described as an artist, an avant garde genius who simply chooses fashion as a way to express something and to tap into the mainstream consciousness or challenge an accepted way of thinking.
For me, there is the obvious choice of McQueen and the more commercial genius of Galliano, but when we’re talking about someone with an artistic sensibility and wisdom then the quieter but more prolific name of Yohji Yamamoto springs instantly to the lips.
Born in 1943 he first studied law and then fashion and he since the 70’s set up camp in Paris splitting his time between there and Tokyo, launching his label Y. His obscure and unique signature style together with a dramatic and theatre like approach to his shows rocked the fashion elite to its core.
His more fascinating stance on women’s wear plays with proportions, forms and silhouettes on the female form. He has created dramatic, thought provoking shows which slowly and subtly parade his intricate works along the runway mesmerising all on-lookers. Intent on being at the cutting edge of trends and distinct from other designers he is what haute couture and high fashion skill are all about. However, the Japanese designer is probably most recently well known for his work with Adidas on the Y-3 collection.
Finally his genius has been recognised on a wider scale and the V&A (an appropriately prestigious venue) is housing around 80 of his garments showcasing his work from the famously intricately pleated and folded puff ball haute couture creations designed to shock and challenge stereotypes to his later work which is more mod like sleek, monochrome tailored outfits.
The installation at the V&A has been collated by Ligaya Salazar their contemporary curator who is clearly familiar with Yamamoto’s life’s work as the format of the installation, is in sympathy to what the designer trys to achieve. The installation is split into a collection of 60 garments made up of both men and women’s wear collected into a timeline of his work and collaborations, which are displayed not within cases, but simply on mannequins where visitors are encouraged to touch and feel each garment. Another 20 pieces are placed around the V&A in amongst other existing exhibitions in 6 separate locations working in unison with the exhibits.
The garments are also mixed with his equally iconic catalogues shot by Nick Knight which in themselves are works of art. In homage to this, the V&A have also created and published a wonderful hard back catalogue detailing the exhibition and also featuring illustrations and images of Yamamoto’s work.
If you’d like to be immersed in a thought provoking, yet beautiful exhibition then I highly recommend you attend and in light of recent events might I suggest donating the equal of your admission fee to the earthquake fund to show your solidarity.