“With my eyes turned to the past, I walk backwards into the future.” Yohji Yamamoto said that to Suzy Menkes nearly a decade ago and ever since (plus long before) this great designer’s path has been constant. Now though seems a particular moment in his quest.
Yamamoto doesn’t change but the world around him does. This latest variation of his brand of textured vagabond masculine armor seemed not only as poetic as usual but also more potently true to the moment: as for a Cassandra suddenly believed, a change in context has altered all.
By the context I don’t mean the video or lookbook, both of which were beautifully shot yet no substitute for a Yohji show (although it was great not to suffer on those terrible old circus chairs he uses). More the broader context, which is suddenly aligned with the darkness at the heart of his work.
On that video we hear Yojhi growling lyrics like a bluesman and—going from the cigarette-y hiss of a nasal inhalation—playing the harmonica too.
This mood music (plus the new version of It’s Only Yesterday, a song played at his spring 2019 show that also incorporated its lyrics on clothes) provided a poignant soundtrack to a procession of intricately arranged loose suiting: dark interspersed with punchily colored long tencel military tunics featuring eye-like fastenings, or mixed material Yohji souvenir-print and textile overcoats.
You could see in the lingering direction of the movie suggestions of many past Yamamoto moments, a wall that has been painted over many times before being allowed to weather. At the end, as at a normal show, we saw the man protected from a spotlight by his battered felt hat.
This time he wore a jacket with the word Fragile embroidered on the back. Strong too.