yohji yamamoto was sartorial metamorphosis at its best
Yohji's autumn/winter 19 collection reasserted his house style: sombrely black, frayed-at-the-edges, draped-and-caped enigmas.
Fashion has lost many of its most prominent Old Masters in the last year or so, leaving its unofficial praesidium bereft of figures that have helped to define what the word really means. One of the few left still standing (although by no means standing still) is Yohji Yamamoto, the 75-year-old Japanese designer who has been marching to the sound of his own drum for almost 40 years.
His latest collection reasserted his house style: sombrely black, frayed-at-the-edges, draped-and-caped enigmas. Here was a line-up of coats and dresses that seemingly blurred into one. Fabric was draped artfully, strings trailed in places, and elegant folds of dark wool created softly curved or intensely perpendicular shapes around the body.
Yamamoto offers a threadbare elegance for those who seek the spirituality of imperfection. He is the king of wabi-sabi, the last emperor of distressed chic. This time, that came in the form of naive child-like painted prints and intentionally imperfect white top-stitching at the edge of blanket-style coats. Occasionally, felt hands emerged from unusual places on the body, like some sort of dark soul escaping from inside the garments.
Yamamoto closed with a group of veiled models emerging en masse. Dark and mysterious, there was a tense moment as the audience waited to see what they would do and just what laid beneath the shrouds of fabric. The possibilities were endless. When one of them lifted her veil, which in fact was a turned-up skirt, she revealed a Victoriana bodice and an intense scarlet lip that slowly curled into a smile. It was actually a reference to the tampada limeña: 17th century Spanish women who shrouded all but their left eye in black to entice men.
More than anything, this was an illustration of just how versatile Yamamoto’s clothes are and how easily they can be transformed from one ordinary garment into something altogether more extreme. Then again, Yohji has always done that -- you only need to look up his spring/summer 99 collection to witness sartorial metamorphosis at its best. At the end of the day, it’s that kind of subtle gesture and continued integrity that makes him one of the last living legends.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.