Kansai Yamamoto Explodes the V&A with Colour as part of ‘Fashion in Motion’

by Katie on November 3, 2013


Who can resist a trip to the V&A, one of the great British institutions crammed with priceless antiquities? It’s worth a re-visit purely for the new spectacular giant glass chandelier of hand-blown lights on copper wires by Bocci that’s suspended above the main entrance.


This stunning, new, modernist frontispiece which is set against the intricate dark wood ceiling panelling and ornate stonework defines the V&A and is an exemplary example of what the V&A does best – marries modern art and future classics against its unsurpassed architectural backdrop and heritage. Speaking of which, the V&A’s has taken emboldened steps to become the museum of fashion, costume and textiles with a roster of constant retrospective exhibitions such as ‘Club to Catwalk’ and with it’s extremely popular series of live catwalk fashion events (free to the public) which has featured iconic names such as Giles Deacon, Yohji Yamamoto, Kenzo, Christian Lacroix and, most recently, Kansai Yamamoto.


Kansai Yamamoto is probably best known for his work with the Thin White Duke – Bowie himself.  The legendary out-there, architectured, wide-legged Aladdin Sane catsuits that made Yamamoto’s name indelibly linked with Bowie’s persona, vision and energy. Yamamoto’s is equally as brave. And as Friday night’s catwalk show at the V&A revealed, terrifically fun and upbeat.


Yamamoto seems to take pleasure from daring the wearer to try the new, the bold, the colourful and unconventional. And yet, it all looks not only ‘right’ but exceedingly beautiful. Striped catsuits a la Bowie, sequin combat harem pants and jackets, outfit after outfit of simply beautiful kimono prints, knitted pantsuits, dragon motif MA1 jackets, Geisha backpacks…it was all there. As well as an infectious, light mood. Kansai Yamamoto is all about enjoying life and encourages his audience to enjoy the spectacle of cloaks being ripped away to reveal catsuits, and in turn, to reveal knitted jumpsuits. He manages to juxtapose Japanese’s rich Geisha tradition and ancient kimono prints with street-wear, creating an eye-popping, layered hybrid to get the pulse racing.

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Standing at the catwalk entrance, barking commands in Japanese introducing each section, there stood, in front of a dragon backdrop,  an imposing Japanese figure in full gilt Kansai Yamamoto regalia and luminous eye-makeup. Only at the end of the show, when the applause was increasing, did Mr Yamamoto reveal that ‘yes, it was he’ clasping and shaking hands all along the front row to enthusiastic smiles and delight.

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Kansai Yamamoto has said of his approach, ‘In Japan the word BASARA means to dress freely, with a stylish extravagance.’ Kansai  is a master of this – a showman. And the world is better for his breed of joy.

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