Yohji Yamamoto -The Poet of Black-

Photo by : Nicholas Guerin

I would like to write about one of my inspirator, a designer, and dressmaker from Japan. It was in 2009, I moved to Osaka city for one-year student exchange program. I often go to some places in Osaka every weekend to visit some galleries, museums, cafés or just walk around the city to take pictures. One day, I was astonished by a couple in Daido Moriyama exhibition. They wore all black outfit and shoes. I think the clothes make them stunning, attractive and super cool. I honestly never ask random people I met in streets or everywhere but this time I feel brave enough to ask about their clothes and they replied “Yohji Yamamoto”. Maybe you will find it’s irrelevant but the feeling of wearing and seeing people with Yohji Yamamoto’s clothes is like being in your favorite space. My educational background is architecture and I was trained by my teacher, back to my Univ life that we have to visit many architectural building, walk around, feel the space and then we will receive an idea how to create a proper space. One of my unforgettable experience was at Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin. The building has a strong message to the visitors and I am sure all the visitors can feel the uncanny and uncomfortable experiences which might reflect the Jewish in holocaust tragedy.

Photo by : Yohji Yamamoto at Work, 2015

I googled about Yohji Yamamoto’s interview, article, video and I think I really like his works and perspective in the creative process. It was mentioned in his book title My Dear Bomb about the reason why he makes such dress for women, dress which far from cute doll-like women. Yohji said that he previously worked at her mother’s dressmaking shop in the Kabukicho area of Shinjuku, a place where overflowing with women whose job was to titillate male customers. These had shape Yohji’s image of women-hood since childhood, and he was there determined at all costs to avoid create cute, doll-like women that some men so adore. When I read this, I understand why his clothes have old, new, casual, yet formal, and cool feeling. I also dislike the cute, doll-like outfit and colorful clothes since my father passed away. I have had ups and down in my life since then and I wear only black (sometimes white and navy blue) because I feel warm, happy, and protected with the black.

As for design process, it was mentioned in the interview that he is mentally far from the mass production. He wants to give a touching from the human being, human fingers. I do have the same opinion with him and that human being, human fingers touches are important for the artwork (can be clothes, product or building).

Last year, I went to his exhibition called Painting and Weaving Opportunity. It was an exhibition in Tokyo Opera City which shows a collaboration of painting and ‘woven’ textiles, i.e. clothes. It is not just the conjunction between painting and fashion that the exhibition presents, but also that between 2D and 3D, men and women, and other oppositions.

The exhibition is a request from Yohji Yamamoto to Seigow Matsuoka. It is mentioned that the exhibition came from their meeting in one of the half-underground restaurant in Nishi-Azabu and Yohji said he wants to make a picture like “Ga-Ki”. “Ga-Ki” written with Chinese characters for the picture(ga) and machine (ki). “Ga-Ki” is a made-up word that suggests the image of “picture-making machine”.

Seigow Matsuoka thought the quality of Japanese art today has deteriorated, and the artisans are spurned by their successors. Japan needs of rougher elegance, a Japan art like Arahabaki, or like Tamayori-hime, which burst into a frenzy after deep contemplation.

This exhibition shows “seizing the opportunity” which points to taking a childlike pleasure in the act of creation—something that not just Yamamoto, but all of us are capable of. Every people was once a child, and we all still carry this experimental and unconstrained creative side within us.

This kind of freedom is also fully apparent in the work of painter Yuuka Asakura. The artist has been collaborating with Yamamoto for several seasons now, from the 2016 spring/summer collection onward.

At the last section of this exhibition, it is exhibited Yohji Yamamoto’s freehand sketches and clothing with the illustration on it. All clothes are in black color because it’s mentioned by Masafumi Suzuki that Yohji is an anti-color person. Yohji’s first catwalk show in Paris 1981 cast a dark cloud cover the veritable explosion of color that characterized the world of high fashion at the time, triggering the “Black Shock” through the liberal use of black –the color that isn’t a color.”

Masafumi Suzuki also thinks that Yohji’s clothing can form and formalizes the human body. Like an army uniform invites military behavior and its spirit in its wearer, a suit encourages a business-like mentality and set of behaviors, and so on.

Baudelaire once said that the black clothes worn by dandies had a political aesthetic to them. Looking at Yohji’s clothes, his black has a political-democratic-beauty to it. Yohji’s clothes sing the beauty not only of black anonymity, but of the spirit that has broken free of societal norms, and that can’t ever be given a fixed form.

And last, I want to share few photos of me wearing Yohji’s fabric & clothing. I took the below quote from Wim Wenders’s documentary work titled “Notebook on Cities and Clothes” because it was exactly the same thought and feeling about experience wearing Yohji’s.

My first encounter with Yohji Yamamoto was in the way of experience an identity. I bought a shirt and a jacket. I had a strange sensation wearing them. I felt protected like a knights army and the label said, Yohji Yamamoto. What did Yamamoto know about me and everybody?

1st and 2nd photo, photographed by : Vinia R    personal blog | instagram

Last photo, photographed by : JOIR (instagram account)

Thank you for reading, comments are loved!


2 thoughts on “Yohji Yamamoto -The Poet of Black-

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