I should have known better than to put Yohji Yamamoto on a pedestal. Never wanting to see himself as anything other than a dressmaker, this show might have seemed fairly uneventful for some – but that says more about our desensitisation to what real talent is. When I asked him backstage what a master like him could find left to inspire him, his heartfelt reply was, 'I’m tired… I’m tired of being called a master. I just want to be an avant garde designer.'
His S/S 17 collection was a visual depiction of that very sentiment. An exploration of 'the avant garde.' It sounds simple enough, but with so many designers nowadays living off the backs of so many greats that have gone before, the challenge to quietly innovate without the hype of being either being called 'master' or 'the latest thing' is a challenging one. Refusing to have 'avant garde' commoditised within marketing terms, this collection modestly set out his stall for possibly the greatest reform of all. The greatest anti-fashion statement in fashion right now is not to be fashionable. In the words of the late Louise Wilson: 'fashion needs to go out of fashion for a while.'
The bright show lights lit up the raindrops that were falling from the glass ceiling of an old Parisian building. The dichotomy of decay and decadence saw this setting speak of a wabi-sabi imperfection, and the authenticity that is this designer’s output. Bandage strapped pinafores, dungarees, fall away black trench coats - worn with black boots or white plimsolls - were the main foundations of the collection. The models all had thick white emulsion combed through sections of their hair – it was painted on their skin too. 'Perfect' dresses, made of blocks of white sheet, hung asymmetrically from the body – and were were splashed with black.
The portrait neckline was revisited throughout – along with exposed backs and hanging threads. The house's logo was sewn on the back of jackets – with the piece of long thread used to stitch it, uncut - and left to trail on the floor. Brown parcel string tacked some panels together and zig-zag stitching went up the back of lace up boots.
Yohji Yamamoto once said he didn't like handbags because he 'prefers a pocket.' Here, they were offered as detached slings. A reminder of Marni's recent commitment to the pocket in Milan, here it was the real deal. All roads lead to the Yohji archive.