Yohji Yamamoto, the law school graduate turned premier avant-garde designer, is known for being somewhat intense. So when he walks into the VIP cocktail hour before his Y-3 show begins, has a few drinks and talks with guests, everyone is surprised. He poses for photographs with actress and model Milla Jovovich and politely listens to her rave about his work, shakes hands with musician Kanye West and even exchanges a few words with reality-TV star Kim Kardashian. Later, he closes his show by walking out onto the runway hand-in-hand with a group of painfully cute child models. But don’t go thinking your favorite eccentric fashion voice is going all lightweight on you.
What was your primary inspiration for this collection?
I wanted to make sportswear elegant. You know, sportswear is not only for athletes. It’s everyday wear for all people. It’s street fashion.
But the collection seemed to have a sense of optimism as well through these moments of bright colour.
Sometimes we need colour. Colour has to be beautiful when it’s used. It has so many sensitivities and meaning. It’s very difficult to use colour. Yeah, think about everyone who is in this room. So many people are wearing black. In this city, most people wear black. It has become a uniform.
Meanwhile, your spring/summer 09 collection for your primary collection was entirely black and white and showed the week that the market crashed. Do you use your work to comment on what’s happening socially and politically?
There is no connection at all between my creations and the situations that we’re in. My role is very simple: to shout and sing the same song forever.
You’ve been designing for 27 years. What is the biggest change you’ve seen in your years in the business?
Fashion is becoming dirtier and dirtier, cheaper and cheaper, down and more down, sexier and sexier. That is enough. Enough. We have to come back to real clothes.