Yohji Yamamoto stood backstage receiving friends and those eager for a moment with the Japanese designer. A few feet away, the imposing structures of his monumental artwear occupied space while waiting to be packed away.
"I was searching for myself," said Yamamoto. "And I had one piece of fabric." He gestured draping it around himself. "Oriental, Greek people were wearing this one piece of fabric. No sewing, no cutting. People today cannot handle it. They don't know how to wear kimonos either. I wanted to show it's quite simple. Just put your arms in the sleeves, it becomes like a cardigan. An easy jacket."
This was not one of his esoterically referenced collections. Instead the show was about the fabric, almost a history of human dress since the inception of weaving. From that simple piece of cloth sprang the idea of draping. Kimonos came next. Then he turned his eye to nostalgic European silhouettes. Yamamoto has long been a fan of military dress and anything tailored, so these leant their patterns to the discourse. Tonight's palette barely registered beyond black, yet it held more poetry than any watercolor depiction. This and the piano soundtrack further brought out the uncontrived emotion between these nostalgic silhouettes, where kimono sleeves on tailored jackets were the dead giveaway to his East-meet-West inspiration. Together, they formed a slowly morphing picture of our wears.
The glaring floodlights that illuminated these dark columns brought to mind the opposition between light and darkness described in Tanizaki's In Praise of Shadow, opposing the West's need for noise and novelty with the East's subtle shifts. When the silhouettes reached their peak, vast panniers cantilevered at the hip and draped in fabric, the silhouettes were by no means finished. "I didn't make a total outfit. When I see 'under construction' somewhere, it's always a good sign," he later told one editor.
"Here in the darkness immutable tranquility holds sway," wrote Tanizaki. This exposé of his musings laid bare, rather than a digestion of ambient noise, produced one of Yohji Yamamoto's most poignantly beautiful and poetic seasons.