Monday, 6 June 2011

The V&A: Yohji Yamamoto

     Last Thursday was the awkward moment when I got bored of revision and decided to take a day trip to London. Seemingly unproductive - yes, however, despite train delays, it wasn't. I met up with a lovely friend of mine, was introduced to the delights of a Yogoberry frogurt and finally went to the highly praised Yohji Yamamoto exhibition at the V&A - simples.

      Although I can't confess to being a regular, the V&A to me is the Mecca of museums - uniquely British in its quirky grandeur, it contains works of art and design from across the globe - one moment you are in Islam appreciating a 5x10m rug, the next you are gazing at one of Alexander McQueen's SS designs.  As for the exhibitions, they never fail to succeed and intrigue. 
     Thus, having already been unable to attend the much-applauded Grace Kelly exhibition on a previous visit, I was determined to see the current one dedicated to the Japanese fashion pioneer Yohji Yamamoto - so I did and at £5, it was worth every penny. You walk in and before you lies an entire range of his works - his whole career in one room.

        I have to confess before the exhibition, although aware of Yamamoto's penchant for geometric shapes, I knew very little about the designer other than the infamous Nick Knight shoot. However, after the exhibition I felt as though I had followed his career in the way in which I follow Christopher Kane's now - rigorously. The right hand wall of the perfectly chosen 'Big White Room' - the perfect backdrop for his clothes - was littered with invaluable video clips and information about the designer with the result that you cannot help but learn a thing or two about him. 
         Born in Tokyo in 1943, he only began designing after obtaining a law degree, it wasn't until 1977 that he presented his first collection in Tokyo, 1981 that he debuted in Paris and 1984 that he created a menswear collection - with 60 of his designs in one room, you not only read of his creative achievements but see them first hand.
         What's so amazing about Yamamoto is that he upturned the fashion scene, as he created clothes many would deem too large and incomplete for the fashionistas of yesteryear. Yet, they were not disregarded as an artistic failure but praised for their ability to change our perceptions of beauty. They sparked off his ongoing career, not to mention, inspired the experimental work of designers, such as Rei Kawakubo today. 
        What followed was an artistic playground of androgyny, neoprene and pattern, as he creatively mixed the designs of his eastern roots with the western world he lives in. Just look at the gorgeous yellow silk dress of his 1997 collection below - it had both an Asian origami-like shape and a Parisian elegance that would not look out of place on a JPG runway today. It was brilliant.

          And unlike most people, exhibitioned at the V&A, Yamamoto is still alive - he is still brilliant. And as his collections below deem, his talent has far from faded away. So, as the display nears it's end I encourage you to go and see his designs up close, but if you, like I almost did, find yourselves unable to achieve this, have a ponder as to which designer you'd like to go and see on show in years to come - perhaps my dreams of a Kane retrospective will be fulfilled, here's hoping they will.

P.S. - For those of you who do go, W9 is a Keira Knightley worthy dream, enjoy. x

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