NEW YORK — Yohji Yamamoto’s son Yuji — who has his own fashion label, Nocturne #22 – made a guest appearance at Wednesday night’s opening of the first U.S. exhibition of his father’s work at La Garçonne in TriBeCa.
On view in the Greenwich Street store until Feb. 24, the six-piece retrospective underscores the designer’s themes of androgyny, deconstruction and artist collaboration.
In New York to show his Nocturne #22 collection to U.S retailers, Yuji Yamamoto, whose company Re:Birth owns and manages the line, said the fall runway show will be held in Tokyo on March 19. With the collection’s design director Michiko Suzuki at his side, Yamamoto said she also worked on his father’s Y label until 2008.
The brand’s name refers to the night music composed by Chopin. “He composed Nocturne No.1 to 21 and our brand is #22. It’s women’s but it’s unisex,” Suzuki said, gesturing toward the green hooded oversize snorkel jacket she was wearing and the black cotton overcoat that Yamamoto was wearing. “It’s big enough for men.”
“Sometimes my father goes to our office and he checks the designs. He has Yohji-isms,” said Yamamoto, who studied at ESMOD.
Aside from being familiar with the senior Yamamoto’s patternmaking style, Suzuki goes to work with him about once a month. That helps to keep her well-versed in what’s going on in that world.
“He is my teacher. His generation and my generation are different. And he is a man and I am a woman, but we are designers. We are talking about just fashion,” Suzuki said.
As for the challenge of staking his own ground in the shadow of such a famous father, Yuji Yamamoto said, “I don’t care because I am a Yamamoto. I am always going to be the son of my father. I don’t care if everybody says it looks like Yohji. Of course it does — I’m a Yamamoto.”
Referring to Suzuki, Yamamoto said, “She also is inspired by and looks up to Yohji.” (His other favorites are Jean Paul Gaultier and Rei Kawakubo.)
Although he did not live with his designer father growing up, Yamamoto said he got to know him as an adult. In New York for a quick stay to show the fall collection to international retailers, including U.S. ones that will carry it for the first time this fall, he described the city as “very fun and exciting.” But their work-focused schedule didn’t allow for follies of any kind. “Next time,” he said with a shrug.
Young actors and actresses will model Nocturne #22’s fall-winter collection at next month’s show in the company’s Tokyo flagship store. Called “The Beating Red,” Suzuki said of Nocturne #22’s next collection, “My heart will beat as long as I’m alive. But my heartbeat will change depending on what I feel and how I feel things. I can feel the beating in tide of the ocean, in the changing of the shape of the moon, and in my cycle as a woman. And Red is the color that has inspired me.”
La Garçonne founder Kris Kim said it took two years to convince Yohji Yamamoto’s head of Fashion Group Americas Emmanuel Harent to collaborate for the retrospective. “We’re seeing a lot of attention for Yohji Yamamoto — for the man, the brand — right now in the store. There’s a whole new guard that’s coming in to learn about this. There’s this new-found interest in terms of the fans, the history and where it all came from. That’s also why this is meaningful for us,” she said. “There’s a new appreciation for something like this that’s been hidden for a little bit.”
With La Garçonne’s Web site in its 10th year and the TriBeCa store in its second, Kim said pop-up shops may be introduced down the road. “I get asked all the time, ‘Why a store?'” she said. “It’s important to touch and feel. You can’t get this experience online no matter how easy it is to shop. You need both. They do go hand-in-hand and I think we’re going back to those days.”
Kim added, “The store’s wonderful because it forces us to come out from behind our computers and running an online business. It forces us to speak and interact. A lot of our clients do come in. We meet them all the time. It’s strange we live in an age where we really don’t do that all that much, especially in the business that we’re in.”