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Yamamoto, three events in London for one Japanese fashion designer.

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Saturday, 26th March 2011 – David Franchi

Yohji_Yamamoto_Exhibition_3_c_VA__-_CopiaThe exhibition “Yohji Yamamoto”, focused on the famous Japanese fashion designer, opens in a dreadful moment for Japan devastated by an inconceivable series of dreadful events. We all wish the best to Japanese people who in this painful time maintain a dignity to be revered.

The V&A Museum organised “Yohji Yamamoto”, until the 10 July 2011. It runs in parallel with two other events “Yohji making waves – The Wapping project” (12 March – 10 July 2011), and “The Wapping project Bankside, Yohji’s women” (12 March – 14 May 2011) both in Wapping, London. These three events together celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the first European show of a major fashion designer and converge on the key question: is this fashion or art?

“The Wapping project Bankside, Yohji’s women” displays the pictures of seven international photographers: Nick Knight, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Peter Lindbergh, Craig McDean, Sarah Moon, Paolo Roversi, and Max Vudukul. They moved their first steps in the stimulating burst of creativity provoked by Yamamoto’s arrival in Europe at the beginning of the 1980s.

“Yohji making waves – The Wapping project” has one only major piece installed the renowned gigantic white silk wedding dress with bamboo crinoline from Autumn/Winter Collection 1998. The item is placed in the vast Boiler House of the Wapping Hydraulic Power Station.

The main exhibition, “Yohji Yamamoto”, is at the V&A Museum. It’s a solo installation-based retrospective, displaying over eighty outfits. It consists in one large room and several installations in others museum galleries. The main space presents over sixty mannequins dressed with pieces of clothing from Yamamoto’s womenswear and, for the first time on display, items from his menswear collections. On a side wall stands a mixed-media timeline presenting excerpts from Yamamoto fashion shows, films and performances, graphic material and select photographs.

Yohji_YamamotoBesides, Yamamoto’s visionary design is exhibited on mannequins placed amongst the galleries of the V&A: the entrance is paying, so people who decide not to buy the ticket can still interact with his works. Positioned in hidden corners of the Museum, chosen by Yamamoto himself, the silhouettes create a direct dialogue with the surrounding environments in which they are. However, this is a piece of hunt and probably not really clear. If someone wants to follow a Yamamoto itinerary at the V&A will have to literally chase these mannequins through the British Galleries Landing, in the Norfolk House Music Room and looking out onto the John Madejski Garden from an alcove in the Hintze Sculpture Galleries. Other pieces are in the Paintings Gallery, amongst the museum’s Ceramics collections and within the Tapestry Gallery.

The garments are on unprotected mannequins, so visitors are free to walk through, or around, them, having almost a physical contact. Fabrics are essential for Yamamoto, they are a brand of his work. Supporting local craftspeople in Kyoto area, his textiles are created to specification often employing traditional Japanese dyeing and embroidery techniques such as Shibori and Yu-zen. The selection of items on show gives visitors the opportunity to see Yamamoto’s application of traditional Japanese techniques.

Yohji Yamamoto was born in Tokyo in 1943. His father was killed in the Second World War. He graduated in Law from Keio University in 1966. He then started to work with his mother dress-making business. His further studies in fashion design at Bunka Fashion College led to a degree in 1969. In 1972 he set up his own company, but in 2009 it was filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo, being into debts of more than 65 million of US dollars. However, another Japanese company, Integral Corp, is restructuring Yamamoto’s company.

From the start of his career Yamamoto was recognised for challenging the fashion conventions and, through this, subverting the traditional ideas about sex gender. In his early time, he was struggling to reproduce the magazine fashion style. Moreover, he was working and living in the prostitute area of Kabukicho, Shinjuku. Therefore, since childhood he was strongly resolute to avoid the icon of the sweet- doll- woman desired by prostitute clients. He believes perfection is ugly because is a sort of forced order of things. Therefore, his work has strong asymmetric proportions and cuts emphasised by mostly using the black, white and grey colours.

This counters the common beliefs of the glittering glamour. In his first show in Paris in 1981, together with Rei Kawakubo at that time his partner, the catwalk was plenty of models with sulky expressions, white painted faces, cropped hair and flat shoes. The music was an electronic heavy heartbeat. Black was the main colour at that time very unpopular. The establishment did not appreciate, press defined it “Hiroshima chic” and in Japan women dressed in this style were called ‘the crows’. However, Yamamoto and Kawakubo have rewritten notions of beauty in fashion, and the humorous androgyny of their work creates new modalities of gender identity, becoming a status symbol for young urban creative generations.

Yamamoto has also become familiar to consumers through his partnerships with other brands, including Adidas (Y-3), Hermès, Mikimoto and Mandarina Duck. He also realised significant collaborations with different kind of artists such as musicians Elton John and Placebo, filmmakers Takeshi Kitano and Wim Wenders, theatre personalities Pina Bausch and Heiner Müller, art director Marc Ascoli and M/M.

With respect to the catalogues and iconic images they produced for Yohji Yamamoto in the late 1980s, Peter Saville art directs the V&A exhibition identity, publicity and catalogue working with Nick Knight to create imagery and YES Studio on graphic design.

The exhibition is designed by Masao Nihei, Yamamoto’s long-time collaborator scenographer and lighting designer, it is curated by Ligaya Salazar, the V&A’s Contemporary Curator and it is supported by Canon UK Ltd.

This exhibition should be an artistic and delightful alternative to the weekend shopping for Londoners.

Published for: www.italoeuropeo.co.uk

Direct Link: http://www.italoeuropeo.com/entertaiment/life-and-style/yamamoto,-three-events-in-london-for-one-japanese-fashion-designer./

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Written by davidfranchi

March 28, 2011 at 6:31 pm

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