PARIS — A troupe of gymnasts tumbled to the music. Champagne was served in test-tube glasses. And that was just the warm-up for the launch of Y-3, Yohji Yamamoto’s new sportswear collection for Adidas.
Then out stormed the models, dozens at a time, some racing on a suspended conveyor belt, others zigzagging throughout the vast hall that resembled a futuristic Thunderdome. Even though the clothes moved at breakneck speed, there was no missing the three stripes that are the signature of Adidas, (hence the “3” on the label), and the clean but innovative shapes and romantic touches that define Yamamoto’s oeuvre. Throughout, the designer worked those stripes to the hilt, sometimes overtly, creating bold geometry across the body, and at others times with more discretion, as in the gray tank top with three center stripes worn with a neoprene jacket and gray jogging pants. Either way, they looked terrific. But Yamamoto didn’t confine himself to the serious solids that often define athleticwear. Instead, he broke loose with a splash of huge, vibrant flowers for playful separates, and long, beachy tank dresses, perfect for sexy hippies.
Adidas and Yamamoto have big ambitions for the new line, and the launch party Monday night reflected that. Sources said that the high-octane bash at Charlety Stadium cost north of $1 million. It was a fittingly high-energy kickoff for what the partners hope could become a $300 million business in five to 10 years. The line for men and women — positioned to compete with the likes of Prada Sport and Polo Sport, and priced from about $60 to $800 at retail — is targeted at specialty stores. For spring, it will sell in about 150 stores in Europe and 20 in the United States, with distribution to expand to Asia for fall. Yamamoto first teamed up with Adidas to make co-branded sneakers for his fall 2001 collection. They sold more than 50,000 pairs, suggesting a market potential for chic clothes with an active slant.
After Yamamoto took his bow, the lights went down, and the space morphed into a giant nightclub, with 2 Many Deejays from Belgium pumping out the big beats into the wee hours.