Currently reading : Kansai Yamamoto: Fashion in Motion
Last nights saw the latest in the V&A’s Fashion in Motion series, presenting a combination of new and archive pieces from groundbreaking Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto in the context of the museum space. The show saw unmatched levels of theatrics, set in the Victoria & Albert museum’s Raphael Cartoons hall where guests were welcomed by kimono clad attendants and al black troop, skulking beneath eye level to puppeteer the theatrical elements of the show – acting kuroko, the kabuki theatre’s traditional stagehands.
Yamamoto, known for bringing Japanese design to London fashion for the first time in 1971, fuses traditional culture with contemporary design across every conceivable level of his work – garments brazenly emblazoned with work by 19th century artists Utamaro and Hokusai, whose iconic image The Great Wave off Kanagawa features across numerous pieces, to presenting a collection of children’s clothes on child sized mannequins carried on sticks by dancing, black-clad troops; each of these elements, though progressive and modern, screams of the drama of kabuki theatre quoted an inspiration to his work.
Opening the show with a single outfit, a cape modelled by Caroline Coon in 1971, and using kabuki theatre quick-change technique ofhikinuki – ripping off the outermost costume to reveal another below – revealed the iconic striped jumpsuit worn by David Bowie during his Aladdin Sane tour in 1973. A level of showmanship overshadowing any of the stiff bodied catwalks of late, and an admirable relationship with his audience; the designer present throughout the entire show and personally shaking the hands of nearly each and every member of the audience’s front row.
The core belief behind Yamamoto’s work lies in the spirit of BASARA, ‘to have a carefree manner, to disport oneself with beauty and splendor, to be stylish to the point of flamboyance’, a sentiment that could easily be used to describe the theatrics of both his designs and shows, ‘the spirit of BASARA is an enduring legacy’.