Different Strokes at Yohji Yamamoto

Was it a coincidence that the inventor of silver gaffer tape, Ross Lowell, passed away seven days ago and Yamamoto had three strips of silver gaffer on his invitation, though none at all in the show? Probably. But then, we are always left trying to decode the workings of Yamamoto, who, in all fairness, simply makes some of the most painfully beautiful clothes on the market.

Today was no exception. We saw a razor-focused Yamamoto, turning out elegance effortlessly, and reinventing black yet again with details so subtle you would have to physically put the clothes on to truly understand them. The hair was threaded and sewn, mimicking the blanket-stitching in the heavier wool garments, with flyaway threads that could be found in the hand knits. Like artisans that had left the studio mid-creation, to take in some sun, the girls walked purposefully close to each other as they passed, brushing shoulder to shoulder — a silent sisterhood. 

That’s not to say that it was austere, or without humor — there was a surprisingly upbeat feel to the collection. The layers and forms were soft, with occasional playful abstract expressionist paint strokes, and unexpected rips that exposed bits of skin as if by accident, though we know there are no accidents in Yohji-town. Was it an accident that one of the sculptural hands that grew from a neck of a garment was flipping the bird? Absolutely not. Was it an accident that when the parade of hooded girls that closed the show to stabs of a dramatic cello marched from one end of the space to the other, before standing together as one revealed her face, she burst into laughter? Surely not. But then…Yohji himself, when he came out, had a little wry smile: he had kept us questioning once again.