It takes a brave soul to become an acolyte of Yohji Yamamoto. Those who dared tonight were confronted with an explosion of color and print that isn’t often seen on the Yamamoto runway. To a beating soundtrack that added to the oppressive trance, his cadre of variegated types – models but also grizzled “faces” who walk his show regularly, decked in an expansive layering of prints, initially floral but very rapidly skewed towards symbolic and esoteric.
While colors and prints were a riotous mish-mash of vanitas, in shapes it was very much classic Yohji Yamamoto, with zippered vents peppering jackets, opening the back of a sleeve, slit beneath the shoulder blades. His dandyish tailoring bore multi-collared layers, twists and layering. On the brim of one hat, embroidered symbols made for a protective circle of sorts. Coffin zipper pulls made for an eye-catching detail while long hooded coats felt like ceremonial robes, and later laddered knots of ropes looked like symbolized fetters. As with all things Yamamoto, there is a deliberate hand in even the most casual detail, unseen by the casual onlooker, richly expressive for one sporting it.
Those tapestry florals mixed with camouflage and snakes-in-grapes sketches were part punk, part shamanic celebrant. A final model stalked by clad all in black, save for a white atom-like design.
What does it all mean? Who knows. Who cares? Certainly not Yohji Yamamoto. After decades studiously defining a fashion unlike any other, the Japanese designer seems to take pleasure in throwing curve ball after curve ball. Corner him as an “all-black, all the time” designer? Here, have some prints and a smattering of lurid pink paint next to a decaying sketch of his face on the back of a leather jacket.
The stunned silence of the initiates was only momentary before applause broke as Yamamoto took his bow. Don’t question, believe.