Meet the relentless Yohji Yamamoto


Designer Yohji Yamamoto


A designer who defines beauty as a coincidence must be an intriguing  person. This is the case with Yohji Yamamoto. Whilst not knowing what to do after retiring, all he wants is to keep making clothes perfectly, designing until the very end.

Yohji Yamamoto grew up in Tokyo. His father died in World War II while his mother was a dressmaker. Surprisingly , his mother did not encourage the young Yohji Yamamoto to become a designer. She expected him to study Law. But after graduation, fate must have intervened because in 1969, he completed a fashion course at Bunka Fashion College and soon after won a competition that took him to Paris, where he was trying to sell his sketches, to no avail. So he went back to Tokyo with an idea of establishing his own ready-to-wear collection. The first one consisted solely of raincoats, but appealed to some buyers. Yohji Yamamoto worked freelance until 1972, when he officially launched his own label, one he cannot imagine leaving.

This long journey  Yohji went through to achieve his dream could be deemed an inspiration to anyone searching to do the impossible. Yohji Yamamoto thinks designing is a difficult task, but that is what keeps him going. In his own pretty deep words “the difficulty lies in finding a new way to explore beauty” seems so true, with the fashion industry always looking for innovation and the ones who make it are only those who bring something distinctive and unique with their designs.

Yohji Yamamoto has always known how to impress. In the 70’s he engaged in a relationship with Rei Kawakubo, also his muse. They hit the Paris catwalk, with inspiration drawn from orient and Japanese culture. The first show was like a spectacle with models wearing black clothing focused on asymmetric forms and their faces painted white. Yohji Yamamoto believes that what stimulates him is in the moment, so every time he is asked about inspiration, he will answer that question differently.

When he designs, he has Madonna, Jodie Foster and Pina Bausch in his mind. Interesting characters, but quite varied, which is exactly reflected in Yohji Yamamoto’s clothes. He always follows his own path so as to achieve something new. Every garment is checked more than 5 times and fittings can drag on forever. It is Yohji Yamamoto’s attention to detail and fraction of originality that every design needs. He has no life philosophy, but believes fashion should turn a weak and feeble aspect of a human body into something enchanting.  So while looking at his collections, we can see a soul and the great ambition behind them.

One thing Yohji Yamamoto always says to young designers is ‘Be bright. Your eyes have become dirty.’ The idea is to be open and discard the so popular fast, cheap fashion with an eye to remain good in quality and be persistent with one’s vision. That is how he’s managed to establish his name in the hectic fashion industry. How does Yohji Yamamoto manage serenity with 43 years experience? He says all he needs are embellishments,variety of colour,and being around people. Retirement is definitely not for him.


You can shop Yohji Yamamoto here.

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