YOHJI YAMAMOTO SPRING 2021 READY-TO-WEAR

Tomorrow Yamamoto happens to be turning 77. Here’s to a happy and healthy birthday, Yohji-san; you have much to celebrate.

By Balthzar Malevolent

YOHJI YAMAMOTO SPRING 2021 READY-TO-WEAR

Yohji Yamamoto arrived in Paris to launch his label nearly 40 years ago. Yet backstage after a show held in the gilded reception hall of the Hôtel de Ville, he seemed unaware of the approaching milestone. “Already?” he said with a flutter of surprise.

One couldn’t help wonder at his rapport with time at this point in his career. “Time is not endless, but sometimes I feel endless,” he answered.

Such innate perseverance is likely what drove him to carry on with a classic runway presentation even as other Tokyo-based designers—Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe, Chitose Abe, and Jun Takahashi—opted against traveling. “People told me I’m crazy,” he quipped, adding that it was important not to overthink things. “As soon as I made the decision to show in Paris, I stopped worrying; just do it.”

From the designs he shows to the way in which he shows them, Yamamoto’s singular approach is resonating more than ever. At turns sober and serene, mellow and melancholy, he delivered a lineup that offered respite from a gutting news cycle without disconnecting from reality.

To start, a series of white and black looks that gave the impression of splicing indoors and out—like crinkled, draped, and knotted bed linens with remnants of suiting. A series of minimalist, elongated silhouettes followed: weightless tailoring and raw-edged pants and ankle-length shirtdresses freely traced with bias stitching. Gradually, he introduced structure and volume with characteristic randomness—loose belting placed high and low, bustle formations, cage skirts in twisted copper wire, and leaf-like layers suspended in space. If Yamamoto was reinterpreting his repertoire, he nonetheless arrived at new expressions of nonconformity.

Meanwhile, models approaching from opposite directions would turn ever so slightly away from each other. The gesture registered respectful, not rude. The collection closed with pieced-together ensembles in white faintly dusted with color. “I’m not an artist who sends a strong political message,” he offered, as always, leaving his collection open to interpretation. “I just wanted to stand on the side of human beings, even if they are not always good.”

Indeed, Yamamoto’s presence today felt meaningful—a true commitment not only to his craft and the business that bears his name, but to Paris Fashion Week. Longtime friends and collaborators made the effort to attend, among them Charlotte Rampling, Martine Sitbon, Marc Ascoli, and Sarah Moon, whose current exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne features several striking photographs of Yamamoto’s creations from the 1990s.

Yohji Yamamoto Spring 2021 Ready-to-wear
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