FASHION PROFILE: YOHJI YAMAMOTO
Yohji Yamamoto was told that “White is the absense of colour, but black is the presence of all colours” – this is ultimately the reason for his favouring of black fabrics.
Born: 3rd October 1943
Famous for: Being an internationally known fashion designer, based in Tokyo and Paris.
Style Characteristics: Experimentation with silhouette and black fabrics.
Yohji Yamamoto was born in Tokyo, Japan and originally attended Keio University. He graduated with a law degree, however, he felt the need to change career paths in the late 60s. The reason for this was predominantly to help his mother by working in her dress shop. He began his journey through the fashion world by attending the Bunka Fashion College.
After the Second World War, the college developed into an institution in order to meet the needs of a rapidly changing society. Ready to wear fashion was becoming more readily available and so the industry had to evolve to meet the needs of modern consumers.
Bunka shifted its main focus from tailoring to training commercial fashion designers and became known as a revolutionary learning facility as it was the first Japanese fashion college to open its doors to male students.
Yohji Yamamoto (as well as Kenzo Takada) is one of the most notable graduates, as he is now celebrated worldwide for his innovative designs - paving the way for future designers.
Fashion Career & The Y Brand
After graduating, Yamamoto worked as a freelance designer until the early 70s when he decided to start his own womens' clothing line, Y.
After establishing his clothing line with womenswear, Yamamoto created Y for men in 1979 - broadening his target market.
Yohji Yamamoto's clothing line soon became a brand, as, like many fashion designers, Yohji presented his signature perfumes for men and women in the early 90s.
One of the highlights of Yohji's career was in 2003 when he presented his ready-to-wear collection in New York Fashion week which was received extremely well and led to his reputation as an international designer.
In January 2011, Yamamoto celebrated the anniversary of his 10 year collaboration with Adidas (who felt they needed a more individual range of shoes and sportswear).
Processes and Techniques
Yamamoto is known for his experimental use of processes and techniques as a way of decoration/utility within his designs.
Fabrics are an important factor within any design process as they determine how the garment acts and reacts to the wearer. Yamamoto's preference for heavy fabrics and textiles which are not generally utilised in womenswear, high fashion or even clothing in general lends distinguishing characteristics to his designs.
Techniques such as embroidery, screen printing, Shibori* and Yuzen** are frequently used within Yamamoto's menswear garments as he tries to subvert people's perceptions of what men and women should wear.
"Fabric is everything. Often I tell my pattern makers, 'Just listen to the material. What is it going to say? Just wait and the material with probably tell you something'" Yohji Yamamoto
*Shibori is a particular method of dyeing cloth by binding small areas with thread in order to isolate areas to be died - beads can also be introduced to create shapes when steamed with the fabric.
**Yuzen is also a dyeing technique which originated in Kyoto in the 1700s. It was traditionally used for Kimonos and consists of over 20 steps (including, design, drawing, glueing, dyeing and decorating).