Yohji Yamamoto – Paris Fashion Week
On Friday 3rd March, ten of our senior students were invited to attend the Yohji Yamamoto show at Hotel de Ville. Yohji Yamamoto “is a Japanese fashion designer based in Tokyo and Paris. Considered a master tailor alongside those such as Madeleine Vionnet, he is known for his avant-garde tailoring featuring Japanese design aesthetics.” – source. This incredible opportunity to see a master at work was gifted to Parsons Paris through a connection in our Careers department.
“Situated in the grand and gilded confines of the Salle des Fêtes at Paris’ Hôtel de Ville with a minimal set design of a linear catwalk and bleachers entirely covered in black.The show started quite late, delayed by 40 minutes as it was caused by the arrival of Avril Lavigne and Guram Gvasalia (the brother of Demna Gvasalia) and the Chinese film actress, Fan Bing Bing, both bedecked in quasi-gothic Yohji looks.
Crowded to the rafters at the space with notable front-row regulars such as fashion critics, Suzy Menkes, Angelo Flavaccento, and photographer, Juergen Teller, the show started with the space shrouded in semi-darkness and then lit by a sequential configuration of spotlights placed above and around the venue. What was quite a noticeable difference was the physical experience of viewing a Yohji show in real-time as opposed to the YouTube live stream, as they apply a shadowy filter to the digital stream during its course.
As always with tradition, the entire soundtrack was specifically composed by Yohji himself, with his breathy voice accompanied by a female singer over the speakers crooning melancholic and languid numbers, especially the opening song, which was a cover of Canadian singer, Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” (1988).
Regulated by the glacial pace of models who sported halos and vine-like headdresses, the looks were classic Yohji translated in renditions of black and its associated sombre hues, and occasionally elevated by appliqued scrolls in red or powdered navy accents in the form of lapels and pleats dangling from draped dresses and louche tailoring.
The cameras were consistently on shutter mode. I knew one of the photographers, named Olivier Claisse, whom I had worked with previously and who still works at present with Firstview being one of the founding members alongside Don Ashby and Marcio Madeira of the online photo agency and preceded by an almost 4-decade long career working for Womenswear Daily, The New York Times, Getty Images, Gamma-Rapho Agency, and many else to boot. It was quite pleasant to watch from the vantage point of the photo pit as the looks could be clearly observed alongside the models’ entire circuit.
Occasionally, surrealist accents popped with painterly canvases encrusted on the backs of several coats and jackets, with one piece adorned with the silhouette of Leonard Cohen traced in red on a black dress and some passages complemented by white stockings and gloves creating a sort of “monochromatic suspension” with the black overlayer adding a nuanced dimension.
Shoes were absolutely comfortable with flat lug-sole brogues and makeup in the form of translucent polka dots scattered around the face as characteristic blemishes that signify imperfections and oddities.
Metallic accents came in the form of “aged” sterling chains strapped around the waists of some looks, and the finale robes were embellished with diamond-shaped additions picked in jet beads.” – Gaurav Dey, MFA Fashion Studies 2024
“The starting point for his collection was something with no front or back. This directionless energy was reflected in each look that piled on lapels, collars or belts that contorted and curved around the body. The layers fell away, look by look, revealing messages underneath. This poetic and deeply personal collection was felt not only in the layering but in the somber black and violent pops of blood red.” – Madison Solomon, FD 2023
“The setting was an absolutely gorgeous and balancing backdrop to a very minimalistic collection. Somehow we ended up being able to sit right next to the photographers at the end of the runway so we had an unreal view of the show! The garments were classically Yohji Yamamoto.” – Milana Stewart, FST 2023
“I loved the soundtrack, where Yohji sang some of it, it was adorable. The Collection was very Yohji and true to his style, I appreciated the Models walking slowly, so that I could catch as many details as possible!” – Ahmed Keshta, FDTA 2024