Yohji Yamamoto Fall 2022 Menswear Collection

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There was a home and away feeling to Yohji Yamamoto’s fall collection, which was staged in his Aoyoma flagship store in Tokyo rather than Paris due to COVID. The inclusion of five well-known Japanese actors in the cast gave the goings-on a local spin, and the clothing found Yamamoto clearly relaxed, secure in his talent.

Yamamoto was among the first Japanese designers to achieve global recognition. He made Paris and New York debuts in 1981 and 1983 respectively, and won quick acclaim for his lyrical fusion of East and West. For fall, this played out most directly in pieces like overcoats featuring prints developed around the artwork of the Polish painter Zdzisław Beksiński (noted for his dystopian surrealism) and Japanese calligraphy. But it extended way beyond surface gloss into the pattern-making and cutting as well. Much of the collection was inspired by 19th-century menswear. The styling was positively Dickensian—exposed seams with hanging threads mimicked the patina of the lived-in work clothes of a chimney sweep, and models wore jauntily tied ascots and waistcoats. But the individual elements—roomy coats, cargo pockets, layered pants, big boots—could be worn right off the runway and look flawless and current on the street.

The romanticism of this part of the collection was balanced by patches of leopard spots, which appeared on black suits and coats, to signal Yamamoto’s continued devotion to the cult of punk. The makeup brought to mind Edward Scissorhands, but with a twist: The models’ powdered hair conjured both ashes and age. Yamamoto is 78, and the actors he casted were silver foxes, not cubs.

It might be too much to say that age is a taboo subject in fashion, but the industry is distinctly youth-centric and always chasing the new. Designers’ current focus on upcycling is demonstrating that what is old might not be passé, at least when it comes to material objects. Yamamoto made that point by adding Japanese characters to the back of a coat that translate to something like “beginning of the third age.”

This collection was at once innovative and comfortingly consistent. In these crazy days, we have a real need for pillars of strength and integrity, and Yamamoto stands for both. He has an enormous body of work on which to draw and wisdom to impart. The time-traveling aspects of this collection, referencing Artful Dodgers and other rebels, remind us of our connection to the past, and a shared history that comes from storytelling.



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