Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Yamamoto Treasure Hunt

The Yohji Yamamoto exhibition at the V&A was fantastic. Somehow I got the idea that it was a going to be a large exhibition and was a little surprised when I found myself in a large rectangular room, where I could clearly see the exit as soon as I entered. However, I have to say it was a great exhibition and it was quite refreshing to take my little sister along for the ride. While I'm not at all an expert when it comes to fashion, I am at least very aware of it and I suppose, sort of immersed in it everyday when it comes to blogging. So it was interesting to see/hear my little sister's reactions to the designs. I suppose, I can compare it to Art exhibitions. Knowing the history behind something gives it more depth/understanding yes, but sometimes it's nice to forget all the finer details and just concentrate on what is presented physically in front of you.
Yohji Yamamoto exhibition
While photography wasn't allowed in the actual exhibition, there were further exhibits which were scattered around the museum where photography was allowed. So my sister and I took on the challenge of the Yamamoto treasure hunt (the best kind of all!) and as a result we explored many parts of the museum I had never ventured to before which took longer than anticipated! The 'Satellite' exhibits were all specific to the locations in the museum and were placed 'in conversation' to the surroundings.

It seemed fitting that our first find was trio of menswear in his signature shade, black. Of course being Yamamoto, things are never quite as simple as they seem with intricate details including lace, embroidery and quilting.
Quitled details: Yohji 3
Black suit jacket with back made from late. White Shirt and black trousers and a black suit with white embroidery. SS09
Quitled details: Yohji 2
Next, we found ourselves in the Paintings gallery. Usually I avoid these rooms because while I can appreciate them, they're just not my cup of tea. The stunning draping of this dress really caught my eye which not only is a homage to Pina Bausch but also to the feminine form.
Paintings Gallery: Yohji Sleeveless dressLong off-white sleeveless dress
Paintings gallery: Yohji detail
Long off-white sleeveless dress in homage to German choreographer, Pina Bausch. SS92
There is something that I've noticed about galleries that hold particularly old works of art. I noticed it at my universities' art gallery and in the tapestry rooms at the V&A. It's that vague biscuity smell. I conclude it must be something to do with the humidity levels. Anyway I digress, we discovered these coats which like the tapestries surrounding them, looked extremely heavy. Of course, playing with interesting materials has always been what Yamamoto is known for.
Tapestry Gallery: Long red coats
Tapestry gallery: Long coats
Long red coat with netting. Long black gathered dress with front pockets and black mesh top. AW95-96
At the British Gallery landing we found ourselves confronted with the stark black and white palette of Yamamoto, found in these suits, blouses and skirts all of which play with androgyny and gender stereotypes.
White shirts and dark suits: Yohji 2British Gallery Landing: Yohji Installation 2
Selection of black jackets, white shirts, black pleated skirts.
Pleated skirt
The details and sheer amount of pleating were just stunning to see up close. I adore the sculptural quality of the mushroom pleating seen below which features in some of my favourite dresses by Yamamoto.

Speaking of sculptural pieces, the dresses below are created from white felt take on a sculptural form. The felt itself gives a determined shape to the dress but because the material does not cling to the body, it means that the wearer is not 'constricted' by the garment. Here, Yamamoto plays with the idea of the space between the garment and the person wearing it. Definitely really interesting and placed in a stunning location in the museum.
Norfolk Music rooms: White dresses
long white dress detail
Long white dress with open back and black skirt and a white dress with a high collar. AW96-97
In the final gallery, we found a more light hearted approach with prints and words featured in some of the garments, reflecting the humour in his menswear collections. Yamamoto's key ideas behind his designs is for durability over time and naturally he finds inspiration in military, utility wear and strong fabric finishes.
purple screen printed shirt
Purple screen printed shirt and blue denim with white painted stripe. SS02
anime print knitwear
While most fashion exhibitions do invite you to look closely at the intricacies, both the exhibition and satellite displays at the V&A was particularly open with no barriers holding you back. Unfortunately this resulted in my sister itching to touch all the displays but the Art Historian in me held her back! (the very thought makes me squirm). I was allowed to inspect everything up close, noting the way the fabrics have been manipulated. It's probably no surprise that Yamamoto prides himself in the fabric of his garments. In fact, this is one of my favourite quotes by Yamamoto which of course I must share. Hope you guys are as inspired as I am!

"I know. It's just fabric. But it speaks to us like a world. If it were a desert and you are a traveller, you would talk about it's wind, it's stars, it's sun. You probably will"


  1. Don't worry you look great with your OOTD's dear ^__^ aslong as you like fashion :D
    I'm glad you enjoyed the event! And bummer that photography wasnt allowed during the show :(
    I whould have totally make a few sneakpeaks :'D
    I LOVE THE 3RD PICTURE! Amazinggg


  2. biscuity smell! haha! so true :)
    I wish I could see this exhibition too, usually I don't like Yohji Yamamoto but I guess now I'll have to take a closer look! I didn't know his garments were so intricate, to me it just looked like a black mess haha. If it weren't for you I wouldn't have known, so thanks XD

  3. Thoroughly enjoyable post :) I particularly appreciate the sculptural dress. The V&A is such a hive of seminal creative moments and every visit gives me something new to think about.

  4. You always give the best insight in to things that are so far away for some of us. :)

  5. Can't imagine what the main exhibition was like if these were just the satellite ones! Still kicking myself for not taking the chance to look round when I was last in London.

  6. Truly, a beautiful post on this subject. Love the details!

  7. Wow, never seen anything quite like this. Thanks!

  8. I've been to the V&A only twice and never to the Yohji Yamamoto exhibit, and despite liking more its neighbour, The Natural History Museum, more, I really want to see this!

  9. fabulous collection! love how the jacket says "don't do that" at the back, lol!

  10. OMG! I wish I could go to exhibition myself! Thank you for the pictures. I absolutely love the white top and black skirt combinations. The mushroom draping is pure genius.

  11. This is so cool! I love how they spread the clothes around the museum. Not only do you have fun looking for them, but you also get to see parts of the building that you might normally skip. Looks like fun! :)

  12. wow it's like stepping into a never ending closet! looks amazing. Thanks for the pictures!

  13. Hey Winnie; gosh, how I miss the V&A! Vaguely remember some of the rooms that I've been to; from your pics; but I digress!

    I love the black and white section best; the pleats are gorgeous! (Def looking for a gorg one like the one you've shot a close up of!) it's beautiful! And the coats were really like tapestries! Gorgeous, and heavy; love the silhouettes!

  14. I really like Yohji Yamamoto, so this post is brilliant. And I completely agree with the biscuity smell, I can always smell it too! I love the pleated skirts and the last photo with the anime print, beautiful. xxx

  15. Really gorgeous exhibition!

  16. Looks stunning! I love when exhibits link in with the rest of the galleries like this.

  17. Beautiful beautiful pieces. Love the monochrome. xx
    We Shop Therefore We Are

  18. Ahhh, I love this. Yamamoto being one of my all time inspirations of a good few. Brilliant post, bookmarked. -xo

  19. I want to live in London, and I want to go on Yohij treasure hunt, and I want to examine the way his clothes are tailored and what fabric he uses real up close. No fair! :P

  20. It looks like a great exhibit.

  21. this is an AMAZING exhibit! Wish i could be there :(

  22. I really loved this exhibition, but sadly enough I didn't have time to search for the satellite installations. The pieces look wonderful - thanks for sharing some photographs! What really struck me was the technology of each garment - the way he manipulates fabrics, sometimes highly unconventional ones, to fall in such incredible designs and shapes is quite breathtaking. Case in point, a very dramatic black/green gown made out of neoprene!

    Looks like you guys had a lovely day :). x

  23. Yamamoto is such an interesting designer. I love his work and the V&A is my favourite museum in the world so I'm very jealous of you right now!

  24. Hi Winnie,

    inspirational blog, you have got here with a lot of beautiful pictures and visuals. Love it. I wish I could have gone to the Yohji Yamamoto exhib, too!

    My Linh, x

  25. ahhhh its like 15min aay from my house, need to see it!looks beautiful<3 xx

  26. Aww, I know that feeling when you think that something will be huge or grand, just to find out that it's not exactly what you expected. Talk about disappointing but I'm glad you still had fun at the exhibit! Who wouldn't? It's Yohji Yamamoto!

  27. You lucky duck! And what great photos. Love this post. Take care!

  28. SOooo Breathtaking! I bet the exhibit was to die for!

    I went to the Yohji runway show last March in Paris, you can see pictures from it here:

    I also love you blog header, did you draw those pictures?

  29. Your photos are uber awesome, they always make me feel like I visited the museum (or wherever you went) with you. ;)

    I loved the Don't Do That jacket and the manga blazer/turtle neck combi right at the end. It's so wonderful when designers work in little quirky details that set their work apart from the rest. ♥

    The Cat Hag

  30. Hello Winnie,

    Fantastic exhibition! I love the classy coats and the long pleated skirt... so trendy!

  31. soo nice and sophisticated !
    have a nice weekend !! :)

  32. This is so incredibly beautiful. I wish I was lucky enough to live in the UK and have access to all this wonderful fashion history + culture.

  33. I love yamamoto! That's a great museum :)

  34. I love the design in the very last image. It's how I imagine a female Tintin might look! You've inspired me to get my arse into gear and have a trip to London to have a good old peruse of the galleries.

  35. Thanks for sharing the pictures! Lovely items!

    And thanks for visiting my blog, as always! :o)



  36. it looks amazing & makes me want to visit. i love the v&a, it's been ages since i was last there

  37. would love to have seen it!it sounds so interesting!

  38. Absolutely stunning pieces! I love that black suit jacket.

  39. Wow, these are really amaizng!




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