Cover Girls at Yohji Yamamoto

The set design at Yohji consisted of a large swooping form covered in shiny black PVC, and a cascade-like drape of huge proportions in natural cotton canvas. It was like the body and the clothes on the runway — a sleek surface draped in fabric could easily describe half of the looks that were presented here.

Opening with some very fabulous hats that would light up any vernissage, we quickly segued into a fascinating section of barely there black jersey dresses that fell apart at the middle, disintegrating into geometric cut-outs, revealing the models’ bodies in careful sections. Quite how they were put together so that the drape resumed after this unexpected interruption is anybody’s guess. It was classic Yamamoto — simple, poetic, dumbfounding. One jacket became a linen dress, with jumbled cut-outs to the waist dancing on fine threads, with a rectangular shoulder jutting out of it. It looked like a Paul Klee.

The line softened somewhat after this with horsehair-trim hoop skirts, and dresses that looked as if they had been put together from old linens and silks. A few looks seemed to be held together by hand-painted magnets, and one look even had a mini-umbrella hat!

The middle section returned to the cut-outs, this time more haphazard, as if cartoon explosions had hit the garments. It was hard to pin down exactly what these forms were, abstract yet figurative, hands and jigsaw pieces, flames, flowers, and rips. The final looks had a couture hand to the application, with sumptuous embroidery falling inside skirts, trapped in layers and layers of tulle. It was fascinating to watch it unravel, a joy to take in.

And, Yohji’s final word? He came out in full uniform black, before turning his back to the audience and pausing, the words NO FUTURE printed on his back. No future? It feels like there’s so much to be optimistic about with clothes like these, but perhaps he was talking much wider than that, a worldview so to speak, or perhaps he was just being contrary. After all, the ‘no future’ promised by punks in the 1970s still has plenty of traction. Punk is still the sound and look of youthful rebellion — and Yohji, despite his years, is still a true punk.