The current Yohji Yamamoto retrospective at the V&A is the first to include his menswear.
The first quote I read printed on the wall when I stepped inside was –
“When I started making clothes, all I wanted was for women to wear men’s clothes”.
Despite the exhibition claiming to focus on the designer’s deep interest in textiles, Yamamoto’s androgynous vision from the out set and the constant challenging of what men and women should wear is what resonated from the multi-media displays.
Stunts to engage us with his vision most notably included presenting his AW 98/99 menswear collection entirely with female models including Vivienne Westwood and Charlotte Rampling and showing men in skirts, kaftans and kilts in his SS 2004 mens show.
Yamamoto’s large striking catalogues of intense black and white innovatively styled imagery were key to presenting his concepts and he has worked closely with photographers such as Nick Knight, Paolo Roversi and Craig McDean. Flicking through these catalogues I realised how many of the iconic pictures I have discovered, whilst studying fashion and entering the industry, Yohji is responsible for.
I did feel slightly under-whelmed by the lay out and expected something a bit more visually arresting to showcase a designer who is renowned for innovative consideration of form and traditional boundaries. The exhibition does have an abundance of great visuals and videos and to be able to get close up to the garments and walk among them is much better than the usual nose-pressed-up-to-glass-action.
Video highlights were the catwalk video of Madness dancing down the runway in 2004 and the AW 99/2000 mens show modeled by three gypsy bands.
The Yohji Yamamoto exhibition is on until the 10th July 2011 at the V&A