Style in Film: Yohji Yamamoto – Dressmaker

YOHJI YAMAMOTO | DRESSMAKER  & master tailer is a portrait of more than a Designer

“Live your creative life! Live your creative life!’”yohji2

Last night I attended the Canadian premiere of Yohji Yamamoto, Dressmaker – part of the wonderful lineup of the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF).

The documentary is an intimate look at the life and work of Yohji Yamamoto, one of the most influential and enigmatic fashion designers of the last forty years. yohji3

Not to mention flamboyant in his own disarming way but also non pretentious and a little melancholy. He does admit to putting all his emotion, all his excitement and philosophy into his clothing from the very beginning…all while puffing on a cigarette.  I imagine his own clothing must reek of cigarette smoke.  However…

Fashion editors agree – arriving at a Yohji Yamamoto show stirs a sense of anticipation not experienced elsewhere.yohji4

Love his designs? Hate them?  Unsure?  In any event you cannot deny the remarkable talent and avante-garde spirit of this now 73-year-old Japanese designer/artist who has never followed trends.  He defies them! Extraordinary dressmaking is an ART in itself.


Along with Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo, Yamamoto was, of course, at the fore of an influential wave of avant-garde designers who emerged from Japan in the 1970s and early 1980s.

The film sets out to discover and uncover the many layers of the man, delving into the fascinatingly complex life story of this iconic and visionary craftsman.

Yamamoto opens up like never before.  He invites the viewer behind the curtain and explores his most private and intimate thoughts and feelings. The film sheds light on his artistic approach and creative working process, contrasting them directly with how he sees the “Fashion” industry today and the direction society in Japan and as a whole, is heading towards.

Interviews with key figures – family, friends, employees and closest confidants – provide even more insight into this Japanese artist’s life journey and the core values that he and his clothing embody.  If only we could understand what many of them had to say.

In this version they forgot to add the English sub-titles when they interviewed many of the key figures, mother included. Although Lost in Translation,  I’m sure it was mostly positive.

“I’ve always dreamt of  being free, but it won’t happen in my lifetime.  I have too many people to look after.” – Yohji Yamamoto

Beyoncé wears YY
Beyoncé wearing YY

Condensed from an article in Interview Magazine:

Born into wartime Tokyo in 1943, Yamamoto first studied law, but opted instead to go to work for his mother, a seamstress, and enroll in Bunka Fashion College. It was after a brief sojourn in Paris that he established his first label, Y’s, in Tokyo in 1972, debuting his eponymous line back in the French capital nine years later and blowing away the tight dresses and padded shoulders of the sartorial moment with the billows of dark fabric and a brand of intellectual playfulness that instantly earned him a place as one of the most forward-looking, paradigm-breaking, and versatile artists in contemporary fashion. But for a man whose work has consistently been associated with the cutting edges of things, Yamamoto has always remained remarkably trend-phobic, choosing to operate within a framework that has less to do with the whims of seasons and more to do with the development of ideas, as exemplified by his frequently loose, asymmetrical cuts, enveloping drapes, ample uses of black, and recurring flirtations with sexuality and androgyny.

Never conventionally sexy or trendy (Cathy Horyn of the New York Times has said, “Mr. Yamamoto likes to dissolve sartorial boundaries”), Yamamoto appeals to clients who appreciate wit, romance, and fashion history.

Yamamoto has also collaborated on pieces, collections and lines with a number of other brands, including Adidas (Y-3), Hermès, Mikimoto and Mandarina Duck; and with artists such as Tina Turner, Sir Elton John, Placebo, Takeshi Kitano, Pina Bausch and Heiner Müller.







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