The new exhibition at the V&A celebrating the life and work of fashion maverick Yohji Yamamoto comes 30 years after his debut at London Fashion Week. Clusters of outfits will be incorporated into six different areas around the gallery, as well as reproduced catalogues from his collections, and videos from his catwalks, all from throughout his career. We spoke to the curator, Ligaya Salazar, about this seminal new fusion-exhibition of art, fashion and design.
Why did you choose to have pieces from his collections placed throughout the museum instead of one space?
LS: There are 6 carefully chosen spaces to highlight different aspects of his work. Each of his pieces is timeless so we didn’t want to emphasise any idea of chronology, and having the outfits complimented with the surrounding of other V&A collections fitted in with the aesthetic of the museum.
So it’s significant that this exhibition is within the V&A?
LS: The use of the space was certainly very important. We searched all of the museum for hidden spaces, we wanted to compliment the clothes, they’re not designed to have bare white backgrounds. Another important consideration was that we wanted visitors to have the one-to-one with the garments.
So it’s quite inclusive; is that also why you chose to have a multi-media exhibition?
LS: It was important to highlight his collaboration with photographers and art directors. We wanted to really showcase the brand, in all aspects, it’s not just the clothes, but the shows, the history, that’s why it’s so important.
It certainly demonstrates his significance within fashion, is that something you specifically wanted to emphasise?
LS: I think Yohji has been hugely influential on what we wear today. When he arrived there was no black on the catwalks, no billowing, no asymmetrical, he constantly challenged the fashion world and what was expected.
Is the rebelliousness potential something that inspires him, or even motivates him?
LS: I think he’ll continue as for as long as he can still challenge the fashion world.
One of the major traditions it seems Yamamoto deconstructed was the idea of gendered clothing. For his A/W menswear show in 1998, he had his entire collection modelled by women, including Vivienne Westwood!
LS: It doesn’t make sense that some styles of clothing are only for one gender, he’s always challenged what men and women should wear. He treats his menswear with a quite tongue-in-cheek approach, and he’s always had a very playful reaction to the catwalk.
LS: My other favourite show was in 2003 when his A/W collection was worn by ‘Madness’, stomping up and down the catwalk.
LS: Well he’s never taken himself too seriously!
Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to gain insight into the artistic career of one of the most experimental and groundbreaking fashion designers.
By Charlotte M Davey
Yohji Yamamoto is on until 10 July 2011