August 20, 2012

Yohji

What intrigues me most about wearing Yohji Yamamoto is how I can put on a blouse-like tent shirt and enormous trousers that resemble a long pleated tulip skirt, clothes so voluminous and so graceful, and feel so masculine, like a decorated, yet dark and recluse samurai, one that has slain enemies in the thousands, yet relinquishes all honor to his brothers.   It is starting to get chilly in New York City, and I thought I’d cover up in a typical Yohji manner.  I first fell in love with the designer’s aesthetic via Y-3, his collaboration line with Adidas, getting to wear pieces from his main line is an honor and a blessing.

Number (N)ine sunglasses, +J scarf, Yohji Yamamoto shirt, Yohji Yamamoto pants, vintage Florsheim shoes

In an interview with curator Ligaya Salazar for his V&A exhibition, he tells the story behind the trademark volume in his men’s clothes.  He speaks of the beauty of space, the idea of that last five or seven per cent, the “in-between” or “uncompleted”, perhaps in the same vein as how in Japan, they would always only fill your glass of water halfway, because they find beauty in emptiness.  Yamamoto relates this visual space he places in between the garment and the wearer to the English expression of “reading between the lines,” and it is in this subtle concealment of the male body that I find the key to the deep masculinity of his seemingly feminine clothes.  The somber colors, the sweeping lines, the pragmatic choice of fabrics, the way the clothes play with skimming and obscuring the body, revealing nary a taut muscle or a belly roll—that restraint is what makes his clothes so sexy.  Yamamoto says:

“Let’s be far from our suits and ties. Let’s be far from businessmen. Let’s be vagabonds. I was born in a very bad moment in Japan. There was no food to feed babies, so my generation of people are very small. So naturally I am angry about my size, so I design big sizes. I started by designing air in the jacket, in the shirt. Men’s items are very limited – the shirt, jacket and trousers, maybe a coat, that’s it. It’s about how to put air between cloth and body.”

a vintage reversible plaid Yohji Yamamoto shirt from Spring/Summer 2000, and large pleated wool Yohji Yamamoto pants from Spring/Summer 2012

Céline portfolio/clutch

Pocket detail and the rosy plaid back panel of my Yohji Yamamoto reversible shirt. The reverse side is a more somber, all-gray.

vintage Florsheim wingtips

11 Comments

  • mat
    August 20th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    the rosy colour is unexpected, very nice detail. can’t believe it’s nipping up in nyc already, it’s flipping hot hear

  • Patrick Wilson
    August 21st, 2012 at 12:37 am

    I’m a big fan of Yohji myself. Those are timeless pieces you have.

  • Syed
    August 21st, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Damn those trousers look good on you! I really need to pick up some of the SS12 cotton hakamas – hoping I can find them secondhand in the near future.

  • Duck
    August 22nd, 2012 at 4:59 am

    I am a big fan of Yohji. I love going into his store on Conduit Street in London and fondling all the oversized designs, although I can only afford to buy things during sale season usually. He had the most amazing tapestry shorts last summer.

    It makes me sad, though, that not so many people are keen on Yohji’s designs anymore. When I was in Paris last season, just before the Yohji show, lots of people (relatively “big” people) were saying they couldn’t be bothered going to his show because it’s just the same old every season. But I think it’s very beautiful.

    I was also quite shocked to read recently that the Y-3 line is designed by the Adidas sports creative director Dirk Schönberger and not Yamamoto himself. Sadface if that’s true.

  • Izzy
    August 22nd, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    It’s sad that some people don’t see and understand the beauty of the continuity and restraint in his designs. It didn’t seem to be doing as well commercially in New York, and the large SoHo boutique closed about a year ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if Y-3 isn’t designed directly by Yamamoto, it is a large and commercial brand. I am thankful though for how it introduced me to the YY aesthetic earlier on, and wearing mainline now has given me a much deeper appreciation for Yamamoto’s design philosophy.

  • Duck
    August 25th, 2012 at 6:24 am

    Yes, his London store is almost permanently empty. I’m not sure if it will survive. It might help if they would leave the front door unlocked though – you have to wave to the sales assistant to let you in!

  • Izzy
    August 25th, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    What do you think? Misguided management? Are they independent?

  • Duck
    August 28th, 2012 at 5:34 am

    No, I don’t think it’s independent, it’s listed on Yohji’s website as their official London store. It’s on Conduit St on a corner opposite Issey Miyake and Layers (which sells mostly dark/black avantgarde brands), both of which are also almost always empty. It’s the kind of clothes I love but I guess it’s not mainstream enough. I always feel sorry for the shop assistants, their days must be incredibly boring.

  • Jameson
    September 4th, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Is he wearing Wood Sunglasses? Great choices…..great designs! INSPIRED!

  • Dunia Fashyon
    September 5th, 2012 at 11:04 am

    You wear those Yohji well!
    I’m wondering if we have the same size because I’m quite skeptical about YY pieces being too oversized for my petit frame.
    I’m an extra-small by UK standard by the way (an XS shirt from Topman, for example, will fit just slightly snug on me).

  • Izzy
    September 5th, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Don’t worry about it looking too big on you, that is the idea! Judging from your sizes at Topman, I’d say I’m one size bigger than you, and I wear a Yohji size 3. You should be good in 2′s!


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