Designer Yohji Yamamoto has a profound appreciation for the blending of cultures and languages found in ancient and Middle Europe. This fascination is evident in both his fashion and music, as he personally curated a playlist that seamlessly transitioned from jazz to gypsy and Middle Eastern sounds. This same love of blending can be seen in his collections.
One example is his most recent collection, which was inspired by the Silk Road, a trade route that connected Asia and Europe. The Fall/Winter 2023 collection featured a lush display of intricately developed fabrics and finishes, with pieces made of noble materials such as Japanese silk, velvet, and thick brocade in rich, shadowy hues, layered in a precise manner. The collection included a double-faced fabric that was printed twice with two different ikat motifs, appearing as jackets, trousers and coats, symbolizing the age-old cross-pollination of Asian and European cultures. A silver claw cuff evoked falconry, an iconic Arabian sport that spread throughout Europe in the Middle Ages and is still practiced in Uzbek culture.
The collection also had a focus on the narrow jacket, which came embellished with a flurry of straps or, in the case of a couple pieces, looser, single-breasted and checked, with artisanal embroidery on the breast pockets. Elsewhere, jackets presented a restrained explosion of flouncing here and there, or seemingly freestyle flourishes in contrasting white. The designer explained that he wanted to do something unprofessional with these pieces. Japanese denim, too, was worked in unexpected and less casual ways, as a trench or a sweeping cape.
At 79, Yamamoto feels that he still has many horizons yet to explore. “Culture is a mix of everything”, he said. “There is no border with materials”. His work continues to reflect this sentiment, and each collection is a journey through different cultures and traditions blended together in a unique and beautiful way.