Three years after graduating from the prestigious Bunka Fukuso Gakuin, in Tokyo, Yohji Yamamoto started his new line in 1972. It was during these three years, while working as a dressmaker for his mother’s small business in Shinjuku, that the twenty-seven year old would develop a strong resentment for the popular styles requested by clients, who favoured garrish, doll-like appearance.

The underlying premise to Y’s was simple: dress women in men’s clothing. In this way, Yamamoto was able to articulate a shift of focus from overt sexuality to an obscured, more mysterious view of women.

“For me, a woman who is absorbed in her work, who does not care about gaining one’s favour, who is strong yet subtle at the same time, is essentially more seductive. The more she hides and abandons her femininity, the more it emerges from the very heart of her existence.”

Yohji Yamamoto, Yamamoto & Yohji (Rizzoli, 2014)

“My starting point was that I wanted to protect a human’s body. This is the beginning, actually hiding women’s bodies. This is about sexuality, about protecting it. From the very beginning of my career, I was not very sure that I would become a so-called fashion designer. It sounded very light - ‘fashion designer’. When I think about the image of a fashion designer, I have to think about trend. I have to think about what’s new, what’s next, what kind of feeling customers want. It’s too busy for me. So, from the beginning, I wanted to protect the clothing itself from fashion, and at the same time protect the woman’s body from something, maybe from men’s eyes or a cold wind. I wanted people to keep wearing my clothing for at least 10 years or more, so I requested the fabric maker to make a very strong, tough finish. It’s very close to designing army clothing.”

Yohji Yamamoto, Yohji Yamamoto (V&A Publishing, 2011)


Shop The Collection: Y's by Yohji Yamamoto