Some seeming renegades are genuine; some ride convenient waves of cultural currency. Yohji Yamamoto is in the former camp, unafraid to put his beliefs out there, period, end of story — even when they fly in the face of political correctness. Asked for a soundbite after his show on Friday night, Yamamoto answered, “anti-racism, anti-crazy global-warming.” Truth be told, it was tough — for this critic at least — to draw even circuitous lines from there back to his runway, save for his beautiful finale that featured five black models.
What was readily apparent: an obvious, alluring sensuality seldom seen on a Yamamoto runway. There, the designer’s explanation was clear but surprising, at odds with the cultural tides: “anti-genderless dressing.” Asked to elaborate, Yamamoto obliged. “Recently, young boys, they’ve started wearing [more feminine clothes],” he said. “Especially young boys, they are losing their identity as a man.”
That Yamamoto alluded to the issue on his women’s runway surprises less than the statement itself, speaking as it does to his non-linear thought process and approach to fashion. Here, he presented a discrete but clear uptick in his collection’s femininity factor, perhaps a subversive suggestion that old-school feminine and masculine tropes aren’t so bad, and that their ebb and flow are parallel. He scaled back his typical complicated cuts, draping, layering and tailoring for heightened awareness of the body beneath. The results retained the undone subtext of his work while radiating classical grace. The clothes followed, rather than shrowded, the body, along the way baring a shoulder or revealing a glimpse of midriff.
A tougher attitude came in tailoring constructed from multiple geometric components zipped together (and some, partially unzipped), while an abstract painting motif imbued swaths of olive drab bunched around the body with an offbeat lyricism.
The finale may indeed have been Yamamoto’s statement against racism, or just an ode to beauty: five gorgeous young women in T-shirts and skirts, each working a head scarf differently, looking completely individual. No identity crisis there.