Saturday, 22 November 2014

Yamamoto & Yohji

Christmas come early. Yohji Yamamoto is the reason I got into fashion and dress, and out of all the books I have on Yohji's work, this is by far the most comprehensive. A must-have for any fan of his work, and the best place to start for anyone interested. I would also recommend My Dear Bomb if you can still find a copy (kicking myself for not buying a few extra copies to give away through the blog). I have to say Rizzoli really do seem to have a cachet for publishing decent fashion and art books, just looking around me now I have the Yohji Yamamoto, Ann Demeulemeester, Rick Owens and Hussein Chalayan book all within arm's reach and all are worth having a look through if you get the chance.

Unlike the new Ann Demeulemeester monograph (covered here), this publication actually has a decent amount of writing and contributions from just about everyone Yohji has worked with. A wealth of information compiled in one place, which makes a huge difference to the scattered quotes that seem to be endlessly reblogged on Tumblr. There are quotes aplenty for those with a short attention span, but this, like the fantastic Hussein Chalayan monograph, deserves to be read properly. For those who have already read the V&A exhibition catalogue or even just online interviews, much of the information at the start will cover a lot of old ground, but the latter half of the book in particular was for me quite a goldmine of additional information. 

A beautiful letter from Charlotte Rampling ending with...

"Deeply haunting, mysterious man
I've walked in your footsteps
in the space of remarkable shapes
that no one can fashion like you. 
A man of prayer when all breaks at the seams
I've walked in my dreams beside you."

"I love women and I consider them works of art. I can't live without them; they are my whole life..."

Yvonne Baby: "When can you say that you are well dressed?"

Yohji Yamamoto: "When the item of clothing disappears and there is only the person, only you. A presence, its beauty, that is the essential. In the end, you always come back to what is beautiful."

A quick timeline, good for a general overview.

A company biography covering the main lines, followed by notable collaborations. 

Salvatore Ferragamo for Yohji Yamamoto (Autumn/Winter 2009).

A look at licensing, beginning with the perfume line (recently re-released, but unfortunately also reformulated, meaning that Yohji Homme is a mere shadow of its former beauty - unlike the re-release of the Helmut Lang fragrances, which are meant to be unchanged).

Stormy Weather jewelry.
"Jewelry has great depth of meaning, it speaks a lot. Jewelry needs a strong will. For a long time I myself had little interest in jewelry, yet when I saw a woman wearing jewelry well, there was a sense of shock, a deep emotion."

The short-lived diffusion line, Coming Soon. I still believe Coming Soon had the potential to bring Yohji's work to a wider audience without encroaching on Y-3 sales (especially as there was no visible Yohji branding or his name attached to any of the tags or literature with the purchases). The cuts were interesting, the prints and colours were fun, however Sinv Spa just needed to step up a notch on the fabrics as I found them somewhat disappointing. The advertising that went with the project was however remarkably well done - the films done by Max Vadukul were superb.

The catwalk timeline is indispensable. A snapshot of each show accompanied by a small description. For anybody looking to find out the main theme behind each collection, or even just a bit of help in potentially dating a piece, they will find this incredibly useful as a starting point. Yes, it would have been nice to have had larger images, or multiple shots of each collection, but considering the scope of the entire book I can understand the compromise. 

A look at fashion show invites, which is something that can easily be overlooked by most, being a rather exclusive and ostensibly ephemeral item. But as an introductory clue for the invitees as to the theme and ideas behind the collection, it is a fun little piece of the puzzle. 

Both Wim and Donata Wenders contribute. Of course.

Hair styling (Eugene Souleiman) and make-up (Pat McGrath and Stephane Marais) are covered. Given that coverage of these areas is virtually non-existent in the books of many other designers, it was a nice addition, but I do wish there had been more photographs and coverage of more collections.

A show would not be a show without the music. Again an integral part of the show, but one that is often overlooked in works on a designer's career, so I appreciated this (admittedly brief) section.

A look at the images and catalogues that have captured Yohji's spirit. Given that many of these images appear in other publications and are reasonably easy to find online, I appreciated these montage pages.

A history of books on Yohji Yamamoto, including Rewind/Forward (for scans see my post).

The only Yohji Yamamoto book I need to complete my collection - Talking To Myself.

A look at museum exhibitions. Definitely pick up the V&A exhibition catalogue if you get the opportunity, it is very well written and compiled.

A look at film, theatre and dance costume, including one of my favourite visual feasts - Dolls (click here for my post). I think this aspect of Yohji's career can often be overlooked when people discuss his work, but costume design is an incredibly powerful medium. One of the good things about the extensive exhibition on Jean Paul Gaultier's work at the Barbican earlier this year was that they also included his costume design. Admittedly it fits nicely alongside the general theatricality of his work, but I think it is a fascinating insight into the skills of the designer, especially in terms of collaborative design.

Yohji and Limi.
Father and daughter.

No doubt this book will be torn apart and posted here and there and everywhere, including all over social media, but please do have a proper read if you get the chance (followed by My Dear Bomb). Although there were many parts I wish had been more extensive and written about in greater depth, given the scope of the entire book, it was remarkably comprehensive and really an indispensable book for any Yohji fan.





Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Romantic's Bible

1982 - 2014

There are people who contribute to our lives in ways they could never know simply by sharing what they love with the world. An author writes a book, a musician sings a song, a designer creates a garment. Whether consciously or not, we come to define the memory of our lives around our experiences of the moments these people create. It can catch you entirely unawares. You hear the snippet of a song in passing during your day, and it stops you there and then in your tracks - you are transported back instantly, as a flood of emotions and memories rush over you. We all have those books, those paintings, those sounds, those smells, that mean something to us that is entirely unique. People can often get quite obsessive over these feelings. Just think about how common it is to encounter someone who has been listening to a band since they started playing, disparaging newcomers to that band's music. But I think there is space for us all to appreciate any person's work, from any time or any place, as long as it truly moves us.   

There are two fashion designers whose work means more to me than any other - Yohji Yamamoto and Ann Demeulemeester. I love the work of many other designers, but it is these two who really drew me into contemporary fashion and made me realize what it could actually be, and, perhaps more importantly, what it could feel like. Trying on their garments and moving around in them for the first time was a revelation - it just felt right, and that feeling has thankfully never dissipated. It is the reason why my wardrobe is dominated by these two designers (although Issey Miyake comes a close third thanks to the fact that I buy my t-shirts from there). 

I am too young to have experienced Helmut Lang or Martin Margiela's work when they were both designing, even though I have worn pieces from those earlier collections that they themselves actually designed. And although you appreciate the work of designers like that, it is an entirely different feeling to experiencing it (or at least a small part of it) as it actually happens. It is the difference between nostalgia for something that once was, to excitement for what is to come. Fashion is the art of the perfect moment, but at its best it is something that lives with you and ages with you. It becomes part of your life, and the moment it captures is no longer some fleeting season from however long ago, but each and every day of you life for years. 

Wearing Yohji, wearing Ann. The best way I can describe it? It's like coming home.       

Thank you Ann.