Further east than Shoreditch… V&A to stage Yamamoto retrospective


Yohji Yamamoto at V&A (photograph: Ronald Stoops)An early heads up from StyleCanteen has been officially confirmed; V&A is presenting a site-specific retrospective of avant garde Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto next spring. It seems our ravenous appetite for Japanese fashion and culture is currently being satiated with a series of must-see events.

This week sees Japanese-cum-Parisian fashion house Kenzo mark its 40th anniversary with a Fashion in Motion event, also at V&A, while The Barbican is hosting a series of eclectic accompanying events to complement the recently opened (and blogged) Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion. Over the transatlantic pond, the I’d-see-it-if -I-could-just-get-there -maybe-just-have-to-buy-the-book Japan Fashion Now – curated by one of my personal fashion heroes, Fashion Theory founder Valerie Steele – is at the FIT until April 2, 2011 (its popularity saw a three month extension of its run.)

But back to Yamamoto; running from March 12 until July 10 July 2011, the visionary’s life work (so far) has been curated by the V&A’s Ligaya Salazar, who promises to blog her experience of researching, curating, designing and setting up the exhibition. Visitors will be presented with one of the most whole overviews of the designer’s work – notably including menswear for the first time – in the museum’s gallery 38, with smaller injections throughout the gallery. Already one of fashion’s key temples of worship, no doubt the opening of the retrospective will see the V&A take on cultish proportions, and South Ken see an explosion of style mavens, and the street style documenters which circle around them like aunties at a Christmas buffet.

That 1980s’ Japan went through the same boom-to-bust as the US and Europe is experiencing now, and that the US and UK is following a near-identical trajectory in our engagement in the digital landscape (eg. in terms of mobile apps we are about 10 years behind them but the patterns of growth are nearly identical), suggests that the inspiration we seek from the land of the rising sun is more than just in the sartorial, more than superficial.

From the ashes of recession, which reduced the accessibility of international brand big-hitters, Japan saw its home-grown designers rise, phoenix-like, to capture the imagination of the country’s voracious fashion consumers. From small ateliers in Tokyo’s harajuku and other districts, we saw the rise and rise of now world-renowned names – Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake, Yamamoto… – who collectively shook up the international fashion cognoscenti, turned the rulebook on its head and made us sit up and see fashion in a new light.

Kenzo: Fashion in Motion takes place on Friday, November 12 at the V&A, Exhibition Road, London, SW7. This is a ticketed event – quite probably sold out by now – to book call 020 7942 2820

Yohji Yamamoto at the V&A runs 12 March – 10 July 2011.

Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion runs until February 6, 2011 at Barbican Art Gallery, The Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2. Definitely worth checking out the exhibition event programme too!

and… if you are NYC-bound, or ensconced there, firstly, I’m VERY jealous; secondly, definitely check out Japan Fashion Now, which runs till April 2, 2011 at FIT, Seventh Avenue on 27 Street, New York. The museum recently hosted symposium on the exhibition, will truffle around to find out more…


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