Yohji Yamamoto Bio: Japanese Designer, Redefined the Fashion Basics

Yohji Yamamoto: the Dark Lord & Philosopher, Who Redefined the Concept of Fashion

Who is Yohji Yamamoto? Yohji Yamamoto is called the progenitor of “men’s women’s fashion”. Unlike Giorgio Armani and Gianni Versace, whose priority is tight styles, the Japanese couturier “protects” the human body, which means hiding it from prying eyes. All Yohji Yamamoto clothes from sketches are asymmetrical, baggy, looking like both new and old at the same time. Yogi’s fashion is characterized by deconstructivism, black and a mix of Asian color and European freedom of expression.

The key to understanding the style of the fashion house in many ways is in Yamamoto’s biography – his early childhood was associated with the loss of loved ones, and growing up in a difficult time in post-war Japan, a country where there is a special idea of beauty and its own categories in art.

The Creator’s Childhood and Youth

about yohji yamamoto

Yoji Yamamoto was born on October 3, 1943, in Shinjuku Prefecture, on “the scorched plain that was once Tokyo. This is how the area is recalled by the designer himself. World War II took away not only his happy childhood in a developing and well-kept Japan, but also his father.

The designer confessed that he thought of him and still remembered the sounds of exploding bombs. His father’s remains were never handed over to the family. Buried in an empty grave is the Leica camera that Yoji’s father adored ardently.

yohji yamamoto

Already at the age of three or four Yohji Yamamoto as a young boy realized that his biography and life would not be easy. In the constant struggle, would have to earn a living to feed himself and his mother. She, by the way, worked as a seamstress, so Yamamoto’s childhood passed among all kinds of fabrics. This may have influenced his formation.

In 1966 Yamamoto studied law at Keio University. His career, however, had to be abandoned in favor of his mother’s help. Her atelier trained her son as a tailor and became so immersed in the material that in 1969 he graduated from Bunka Fashion College.

Yogi was annoyed that he could not sew expensive and stylish clothes. His mother’s atelier was located in the Kabuki district of Shinjuku prefecture. And the most frequent customers were female employees of bars, brothels, and theaters, whose earnings were tied to the depth of their cleavage.

These windy girls had shaped Yoji’s image of femininity since childhood. So he was determined to avoid at all costs creating clothes for the doll-like women that some men adore so much. That’s how the idea of creating masculine clothes was born.

A Career as a Fashion Designer

backstage yohji yamamoto

In the Yohji Yamamoto 80s, namely in 1981 his debut collection, Y, was presented in Paris.

It shocked the public and provoked mainly negative reviews. Couturiers and socialites saw nothing attractive in the baggy shapes and rough silhouettes in dark shades. In Japan, women who wore clothes from the collection Y were called “crows”.

There were those who appreciated the regulation of Yohji Yamamoto. Journalists, businesswomen and actresses, tired of the motley and tight clothes, chose Y. Their closet was filled with understatedly erotic dresses rather than overtly sexy ones.

In 1984, Yohji Yamamoto debuted her menswear collection, and Jack Nicholson and Brian Ferry joined the ranks of fans of baggy and mournful clothing.

Features of Yohji Yamamoto Style

yamamoto campaign
yohji yamamoto 2007 winter

When designing clothes, the Japanese Yohji Yamamoto fashion designer focused on the mystery of the human body. Even in his youth, he adhered to the idea that a woman’s silhouette must be seen by only one person – her partner, and in a strictly defined place – in the bedroom.

yohji yamamoto 1991

That is why Yohji is called the legislator of “men’s and women’s fashion”. He really was the first of many who dressed fragile girls in a straight coat, oversized shirts and pants.

The colors of the Yohji Yamamoto art collections are not coincidental. All the designer observed as a child were his mother’s mourning skirts. Even after recovering from the loss of her husband, she wore black, navy blue and burgundy.

yohji yamamoto rtw 2021
y-3 fall winter collection
yohji yamamoto menswear

In the 90’s Yohji Yamamoto noticed that clothes of dark shades without accessories are more elegant. And an imperfect image is easy to hide behind variegated fabrics and flashy jewelry. In his collections Yohji Yamamoto as a designer relies only on basic accessories in the fashion industry: bags, purses and shoes. At the same time, his shoes are functional and often flat-soled.

future beauty yohji yamamoto
yohji yamamoto V&A

In 1996, as a Japanese fashion designer, Yohji Yamamoto diluted his clothing collection with fragrances. Women’s perfumes were the first to come out. Like the clothes, it provoked mixed reactions. But experienced Yamamoto continued to create. Now the range includes more than 30 kinds of perfumes. They are spicy perfumes for women, as well as men’s perfumes with musk notes.

Collaboration with Adidas

yohji yamamoto adidas

Another coup was Yohji Yamamoto’s collaboration with Adidas. In 2003, they released their debut Y-3 sport collection together. Y3 yamamoto sportswear and sneakers didn’t lose the traditional three stripes, but became more Japanese avant-garde fashion. The Japanese fashion designer took inspiration for this Y3 Adidas Yamamoto collection from businessmen who started to wear suits with sneakers.

For half a century, Yohji has been challenging the fashion establishment and changing the notion of beauty.

Yamamoto & Crisis

In 2009, his brand was on the verge of bankruptcy. If not for the financial support of Integral Corp., a Japanese private equity fund, the world would not have seen the “mournful” collections of Yohji Yamamoto Inc. Yamamoto saw the reason for this situation as “crushing” the business.

Designer’s Private Life

yohji daughter

Who is Yohji Yamamoto? He keeps his private life closely guarded against prying eyes. Tabloids are trying to find out all the details, but are usually unsuccessful. Some write that Yohji Yamamoto was once married to a woman named Keiko, and the subsequent relationships were built informally. Some say he did not have any wives. But we can’t give any exact information about Yohji Yamamoto’s wife.

It is only reliably known that there is a Yohji Yamamoto daughter – Limi Feu, who continues her father’s cause and creates her own collections of avant-garde clothing. In addition, the designer has two sons. According to some reports, they are also involved in the fashion world.

Yohji Yamamoto Today

Despite Yohji Yamamoto’s advanced age, Yohji Yamamoto still shines with ideas.

Yohji suggested that his brand would die with him. The fashion designer couldn’t imagine anyone taking his place and continuing to produce Yohji Yamamoto fashion clothes. Perhaps, in time, Yohji Yamamoto brands can really turn vintage, or maybe a celebrity daughter takes over the reins.

Interesting Facts

matrina yohji yamamoto
marilyn monroe yohji yamamoto ground y capsule collab
  • In 2005, Yamamoto thought about ending his career. At the same time, the perception of fashion changed. At that time, people were looking not only for stylish clothes, but also for cheap ones. The designer decided that he could occupy this niche. “Reincarnation” provoked the writing of an autobiography book, “My Dear Bomb” (2011). With a Yohji Yamamoto book, he declared that he felt 10 times more powerful in the fashion world!
  • Wim Wenders, filmmaker and good friend of Yohji, somehow got into the designer’s studio. He later showed the world the famous designer’s workshop in the documentary “Notes on Clothes and Cities” (1989).
  • It’s a film about how the master creates sketches, how he communicates with top models and how he consults with tailors. All these intimate moments were made public through Wenders’ film work.
  • At the same time as Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo appeared on the runway. Their avant-garde fashion style was jokingly called “Hiroshima-chic.”
  • In 1984, he presented a line of men’s clothing and in 1991, a line of underwear.
  • He became one of the founders of the “deconstructivism” trend in fashion, Yohji Yamamoto design.
  • Yohji Yamamoto, fashion designer, creates clothes not only for the mass consumer, but also for actors. His suits can be seen in films by Takeshi Kitano and Akira Kurosawa.
  • The logo of the brand, Yohji Yamamoto Inc. – is a Yohji Yamamoto signature of the fashion designer.
  • Yohji Yamamoto was the first to put on the runway models of things with untrimmed seams and edges.

For famous Japanese designers or young designers who are just starting out in this industry, Yohji urges them to abandon computers and the Internet. The designer believes that if you want to create something really emotional, you shouldn’t look online for inspiration. Just look around you.

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