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Essay: Hat by Yohji Yamamoto

by Penny Martin on 11 February 2004

Despite her aversion to attention seeking headwear, Penny Martin finds herself drawn to Yohji Yamamoto's elegant reworking of the coolie hat.

Despite her aversion to attention seeking headwear, Penny Martin finds herself drawn to Yohji Yamamoto's elegant reworking of the coolie hat.

Few of us - if we are completely honest–really wish to stand out from those around us. Should the focus of attention shift towards us then, yes, we would like to be found neat and clean; chic even. But garments that create a sensation all of their own, upstaging the wearer–or to paraphrase Coco Chanel, clothes that wear you–are nothing short of an undesirable encumbrance. How many vast, wide-brimmed hats, for instance, do you see worn outside provincial weddings?

And yet I find myself hopelessly drawn to just this. The magnificent constructions atop the heads of Yohji Yamamoto's models, positively wafted down his Spring/Summer 2004 catwalk, imbuing their wearers with the utmost grace and beauty. Qualities, surely, that most of us could live with? A modern re-working of the Japanese worker staple, the coolie hat, this sculptural object of beauty consists of nothing more than an oversized PVC disc draped over a moderately proportioned straw hat.

However much of a statement the Yohji straw hat makes, its grateful bearer knows that it is one of exquisite, implicit taste.

But Yohji's grasp of Modernist form, his sensitivity to colour–witness how the virtually colourless plastic of the enigmatic veil projects a gorgeous blush tone onto its wearer's complexion–and his audacious use of different scales demonstrates exactly what inspires such fierce loyalty from the veteran designer's consumers. In essence, it's a question of trust. However much of a statement the Yohji straw hat makes, its grateful bearer knows that it is one of exquisite, implicit taste.

Straw and plastic hat by Yohji Yamamoto at Yohji Yamamoto +4420 7491 4129

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