Yohji Yamamoto was born in 1943 and graduated from law school in 1966. Right after he realized that being part of the ordinary society and a law career was not for him. Instead, he decided to support the family tailoring business of his widowed mother who was a dressmaker, and agreed under one condition: a fashion college degree which he completed in 1969 at Bunka Fashion College Tokyo, awarded with two fashion prices and a scholarship in Paris.
Back in Japan, in 1972, Yohji Yamamoto founded his prêt-à-porter label Y’s for Women, followed seven years later by the second line for men. After presenting his first collection in Tokyo in 1977 and enjoying commercial success, he showed his fashion for the first time in Paris in 1981, launching Yohji Yamamoto Femme. A fashion show in New York followed in 1982. Yohji Yamamoto earned a lot of criticism in the European fashion world at the beginning but was soon able to convince the European market as well with his first collection under Yohji Yamamoto Homme, which he presented in the French capital in 1984. Yamamoto also opened his first store in Paris in the early 1980s.
Yohji Yamamoto is well-known for avant-garde and oversized silhouette fashion pieces that are deconstructed, asymmetrical and somber. The natural asymmetry of the body inspires him to create equally asymmetrical cuts, voluminous silhouettes and a deconstruction of familiar forms. He drapes and wraps according to Japanese tradition, plays with the movement of clothing and layers many layers of fabric on top of each other. His stylistic model: nomads. “They wear everything they own on their bodies. Their clothes are their life. That’s my goal,” Yamamoto said at a lecture at the Oxford Union Society.
Yohji Yamamoto explains his preference for black by saying that his mother wore black exclusively after his father died in the war. Timeless and unusual design make Yamamoto’s fashion “anti-fashion”, standing against fast fashion which is destroying fashion, he says, and young people have lost their ability to criticize current trends.
Various collaborations and awards underline the success of the designer. The most well-known is the Adidas Y-3 line, of which Yamamoto has been creative director since 2002. The collections fuse sportswear and streetwear with Yohji Yamamoto’s style.