“The Times Are Changing Too Fast,” read a slogan patched in red, white and black on the side of a long coat at Yohji Yamamoto’s poetic show, which was built around workwear and the power of the body. Yamamoto, long salt-and-pepper hair spilling from under the brim of his felt hat, said he’s unhappy with the dynamics of 21st-century life. “Money makes money. I hate it. Let’s go back to the days when the body made money. These boys are all fighters — and workers. I admire and respect them.”
The designer worked his message through a lineup of typically languid, deconstructed and layered looks, some with messages that poked fun at his origins: “Japan, Cringe” or “You Have No Marbles” were among the phrases patched sideways onto jackets and coats. Yamamoto nodded to the working classes and their uniforms, creating boxy jackets, one in a magnified camouflage pattern, another with swirling skulls and fat leaves, and another adorned with lavalike waves — all of which he drew by hand.
A clutch of dramatic velvet robe coats — fit for a pasha in eggplant, bright red or salmon — were all reversible, with their insides covered in paint splotches. Yamamoto said he was thinking about how Japanese fighter pilots would paint their planes to camouflage them. Loose coveralls were layered under jackets, some of which had leather details around the buttonholes, while wide black trousers were fastened at the bottom with white button tabs or bits of leather.
The designer thrust the body under the spotlight in subtle ways, slashing the back of a boxy jacket into a V-shape, slyly unzipping trouser seats, or bits of jackets to reveal billowy white or blue shirts underneath. The times may be changing fast and Yamamoto may be in business for nearly 40 years, but he still has much to say.