You Should Be Watching: YAMAMOTO

Yohji Yamamoto – Dress 1983
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Yohji Yamamoto stormed the Parisian fashion scene in the early 1980’s. With the help of other avant-garde Japanese designers, Yamamoto transformed the prevailing European fashion aesthetic. Brightly colored body conscious dresses no longer ruled the runway and were replaced with Yamamoto’s signature monochromatic body enveloping silhouettes. In the two videos below, the reticent designer discusses his fashion philosophy.

Notebook on Cities and Clothes (1989)
Image: Screen Shot

This artistic documentary from 1989 has been in my Netflix queue for several months now. Directed by Wim Wenders (Buena Vista Social Club-1999), the film explores identity, fashion, and the digitally recorded image. Wenders creatively combines multiple videos on one screen, including interviews with Yohji Yamamoto, casual interactions with the designer, and footage of Yamamoto working in his studio.

Yamamoto thoughtfully discusses his theory on the use of monochromatic color schemes and his predilection for asymmetrical designs.  One of the most interesting portions of the documentary is when Yamamoto is shown cutting patterns directly on a model’s body.

In addition, Yamamoto’s visual resource library is explored. (I have to get my hands on a copy of August Sander’s, Man of the Twentieth Century).

Yohji Yamamoto: Poet in Black

This short 18 minute video was produced in conjunction with the V&A’s 2011 Yohji Yamamoto exhibition.

An excellent complement to Notebook on Cities and Clothes, Poet in Black, features an older more mature and solemn Yamamoto. The designer is seated alone in front of a bookcase, smoking, while he answers a set of simple question. Vibrant runway footage is layered over top of Yamamoto’s candid responses.

Yamamoto discusses his success, his difficulty with menswear, and the future of his designs.

Bonus Video:
In Conversation, About Yohji Yamamoto Also produced by the V&A for the Yamamoto exhibition. The hour long video features Marc Ascoli, Nick Knight, and Peter Saville in a roundtable discussion about Yohji.

In Addition…Wish List:
This is My Dream: Yohji Yamamoto (2011) – A short 29 minute documentary focused on Yamamoto.

The Challenge of Rei Kawakubo – A 50 minute documentary on the notoriously silent (Yamamoto rival) and most cerebral of the Japanese fashion designers, Rei Kawakubo.

If anyone has access to This is My Dream or a version of The Challenge of Rei Kawakubo with English subtitles, please let us know.

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  • Andrew July 05, 2015 09.30 am


    I am desperately looking for a copy of the ‘yohji yamamoto this is my dream’ docoumentary? If you are aware of a where abouts please let me know- I am hapy to purchase one. Thank YOU!!

  • Monica Sklar September 27, 2015 10.04 pm

    Sorry I do not know but if we find it we’ll post about it!


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