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Yohji Yamamoto Spring 2023 Menswear Collection


Yohji Yamamoto was 15 in 1958 when Elvis Presley—the man of the moment—released the hit “Trouble.” The song, which includes the lyrics, “Because I’m evil, my middle name is misery (yeah, yeah) / Well, I’m evil, so don’t you mess around with me,” was included on the soundtrack to the designer’s spring 2023 menswear show, as was the elegiac “Danny Boy.”

Whether or not the playlist was intended as a “breadcrumb,” there are few other clues to follow to get at the meaning of the collection—if indeed there is one. Sometimes a suit is just a suit. For several seasons now, Yamamoto has used his menswear looks like chalkboards or empty walls which he “tags” with fragments and phrases. “What are you made of?” “Shitty life,” and “I’m so bored with rules,” were some of this season’s snippets. The last one could be read as a mantra; Yamamoto, a rebel with a cause, has always walked his own path, and continues to do so as he nears 80.

This collection was as much about fabrics and materialization as construction, however. Yamamoto’s palette was unusually vivid, and there were almost-psychedelic appliqués mixed with prints to kaleidoscopic effect, and artfully patched suits on ivory ground. Layering is key to the Yohji look and this season pleated half skirts and aprons were worn with loose trousers or built into outerwear.

The models, not all of whom were striplings, had gray streaks in their hair. Could this have been Yamamoto addressing the taboo around age which persists in fashion? More generally, time is an important theme in his work, and the designer is engaged in a dialogue with the past (see last season’s Dickensian tale), but in a way that moves tradition forward. Sometimes he does that by combining elements from East and West, other times that was achieved by way of an “inside job,” i.e. rethinking and reworking traditional tailoring. Yamamoto’s designs don’t just look different, they’re built different. You might just say that this collection was bad (meaning good) to the bone.



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