Ever since Y-3 moved to the Parisian scene, Yohji Yamamoto seems to have taken greater pleasure in the fruit of his collaboration with Adidas. Before the show, he could even be found having a look at the set, a giant surf shack that had been set up inside the Couvent des Cordeliers. Surfboards and pastels adorned the wood, but even the chillest moments, where there is the Japanese designer's hand, there was some food for thought. "Surf now, apocalypse later" was stenciled over the passage where models crossed from one side of the runway to the other. A declaration of carefree enjoyment, or a reference to the 2002 documentary on the loss of innocence caused by the Vietnam war?
Once the surf was up, out emerged the season's collection. But clearly, we're talking Yohji here, so there wasn't much literal surfing inspiration. Instead, it was more of the soft tailoring that made this collaboration one of the most successful to date, spinning elegant activewear. Shapes stayed the course of the seminal pieces popularized by surf and snow lifestyle brands. On the boys, it telegraphed cool insouciance while on the girls, the looks were rather "unisexy". The Adidas stripe is played with, always present but never too blatant. It morphed into contrasting bands, slid from shoulder to hip, interjecting the mint green or breaking up florals. A sketch print updated the Hawaiian shirt, while that ever-popular print creeps in progressively, from shoes to the full monty at the very end. There were a few Yohji-isms thrown in for good measure, like the three rows of ruffles running mullet-like down the back of a layered dress, a flurry of mesh becoming a swishy skirt or the way a puffy pleated skirt was gathered at the knee by three bands of elasticated fabric, creating distinctive volumes. On the whole, the collection showed a nice consistency, checking the right references while adding thoughtful flourishes.
If sportswear is a trend that stems from designers' need to reach out to a clientele that is increasingly influenced by the streets, and dressing in an increasingly casual way, then Yohji Yamamoto is having the last laugh to show them how its done. After all, Y-3 pretty much set the blueprint on designer exploration of the matter, long before designer collaborations with sports brands became a bankable endeavor. One of the essential elements in the Yohji-Adidas marriage is not the sportswear itself, it's about how Yamamoto injected his own sensibility to steer the result away from merely a boring endorsement to a highly profitable business line.