Yohji Yamamoto is a Tokyo based legendary Japanese designer known for his avant-garde tailoring and usage of predominantly black and grey color palette. He's mostly known for his brand Yohji Yamamoto, as well as Y-3 adidas subbrand, Y's by Yohji Yamamoto and more.
Born in Tokyo in 1943, Yamamoto was raised by his mother who owned a dressmaking shop. He lost his father due to WW2, which strongly affected young boy and his mother. The designer has mentioned many times that he understood that life is not fair very early in his childhood, which made him work hard from the very beginning to 'not be nobody'. Yamamoto graduated from Keio University with a degree in law in 1966, but he gave up career as a lawyer to help his mother in her tailoring business, which turned out to be a first step towards his great fashion career. In 1977 Yohji first debuted in Tokyo, then displayed his work in 1981 in Paris, followed by a show in New York in 1982. His early collections were mostly black, womenswear resembled men's clothing, with clothes serving as an armor, guarding the person wearing it.
"It meant something to me – the idea of a coat guarding and hiding a woman's body. I wanted to protect the woman's body from something – maybe from men's eyes or a cold wind."
In 1989 German director Wim Wenders released a documentary titled "Notebook on cities and clothes", which tells the story of Yohji's creative work, his philosophy, life, as well as director's thoughts about Yamamoto's creations. In this film the designer explains that his father was forced to join the military, despite not fitting into a soldier stereotype, and died in uncertain circumstances during USA's offensive on Pacific Ocean. Yohji explains further, that his mother didn’t want to believe that his father is dead for a few years, later organized symbolic funeral and started wearing dark clothes as a sign of mourning his death. He suggested that this might be one of the reasons why he decided to use similar color palette in his works. Yamamoto also said that this war (meaning WW2 resulting in trauma of many people who didn't even take direct part in it) hasn't ended inside him yet and probably never will.
Besides being a designer Yohji Yamamoto also recorded and released a few albums in the 90's: "Dog of Terror", "HEM" (recorded in collaboration with Scum Riders), "Well I Gotta Go" and more.
His daughter Limi Feu also became a successful designer, and played an important role in convincing her father not to retire from designing.
Currently Yohji Yamamoto is living in Tokyo with his dog Rin, still making clothes and presenting new ideas to the world. One of his latest collections was inspired by Zdzisław Beksiński works, which proves his wide interest in art to this day.
Written by Tymoteusz Herkowiak