Yohji Yamamoto takes over London
There isn’t just one, but three exhibitions on the great avant-garde Yohji Yamamoto launching in London this week. This, coupled with a fantastic biography the Japanese designer published earlier this year, hotly trailed by a brand new Y-3 flagship store on Conduit Street, makes it fairly safe to deduce that Yohji fever has well and truly taken over the city.
The retrospective is essentially split into three parts, with the V&A concentrating on Yamamoto’s clothes, Wapping Project Bankside showing the photographs from Yamamoto’s key collaborators, and The Wapping Project concentrating on an installation of one of the designer’s major pieces.
Joining forces with scenographer, lighting designer, and long-time Yamamoto collaborator, Masao Nihei, The Wapping Project installation gives centre stage to the now legendary oversized white silk wedding dress from A/W 1998, turned on its head and suspended from the ceiling over a flooded pool in former hydraulic power station’s Boiler House. Lit just above water level with a row of light bulbs, the experience - complete with ripples that disturb the water at 10 minute intervals - allows for viewers to catch the ghostly glow of the dress and reflected in the water, and, for anyone daring enough to ’brave’ the waves, detailed inspection through the services of a little wooden boat and accompanying boatman.
Closer to town, photographic gallery Wapping Project Bankside has lent its large industrial space to ’Yohji’s Women’, a communion of image-led work dedicated to Yamamoto’s love of unconventional women and his drive to create sexually androgynous clothes for them, featuring a roll call of photographers that includes Nick Knight, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, Peter Lindbergh and Paolo Roversi, amongst others.
While heading westward, the V&A’s dedicated homage to Yamamoto’s work through an installation-based format, also designed by Nihei, sees over 80 garments on show - 60 of which hold court in a main exhibition space, with the rest appearing in ’satellite displays’ hidden in various corners of the museum.
There is also Yamamoto’s work with the people he forged strong creative partnerships with, and a mixed-media timeline charts his career through fashion shows, films, performances, graphic material and photographs. Not to be missed as well, is the first-ever UK exhibit of clothes from his menswear collection.