Yohji Yamamoto

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Yohji Yamamoto
Yohji Yamamoto, New York Fashion Week, February 2010.jpg
Yamamoto, February 2010
Born (1943-10-03) 3 October 1943 (age 79)
Tokyo, Japan
Alma mater
OccupationFashion designer
Label(s)Yohji Yamamoto, Y's, Y-3
Yohji Yamamoto: A Kind of Woman by Matthew Donaldson, from Nowness

Yohji Yamamoto (山本 耀司, Yamamoto Yōji, born 3 October 1943[1]) is a Japanese fashion designer based in Tokyo and Paris. Considered a master tailor[2] alongside those such as Madeleine Vionnet, he is known for his avant-garde tailoring featuring Japanese design aesthetics.

Yamamoto has won notable awards for his contributions to fashion, including the Chevalier/Officier/Commandeur of Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon,[3] the Ordre national du Mérite, the Royal Designer for Industry and the Master of Design award by Fashion Group International.[4]

Early life[edit]

Born in Tokyo, Yamamoto graduated from Keio University with a degree in law in 1966. He gave up a prospective legal career to assist his mother in her dressmaking business, from where he learned his tailoring skills.[5] He further studied fashion design at Bunka Fashion College, getting a degree in 1969.[6]

Yohji Yamamoto polyester gown 1998


Yamamoto debuted in Tokyo in 1977, followed by two more shows; a debut in Paris in 1981 and in New York in 1982.[7] His first collection under the label Y's, focused on a collection for women that reflected typical men's garments, with clothes cut in uncluttered shapes with washed fabrics and dark colors.[8] In an interview with The New York Times in 1983, Yamamoto said of his designs, "I think that my men's clothes look as good on women as my women's clothing […] When I started designing, I wanted to make men's clothes for women."[9] More recently he has expounded: "When I started making clothes for my line Y's in 1977, all I wanted was for women to wear men's clothes. I jumped on the idea of designing coats for women. It meant something to me – the idea of a coat guarding and hiding a woman's body. I wanted to protect the woman's body from something – maybe from men's eyes or a cold wind."[10]

His commercially successful main line, Yohji Yamamoto (women/men) and Y's, are especially popular in Tokyo. These two lines are also available at his flagship stores in Paris and Antwerp, and at high-end department stores worldwide. Other principal lines include Pour Homme, Costume d'Homme, and the diffusion line Coming Soon. Yohji Yamamoto Inc. reported in 2007 that the sales of Yamamoto's two main lines average above $100 million annually.

Yamamoto is known for an avant-garde spirit in his clothing, frequently creating designs far removed from current trends. His signature oversized silhouettes often feature drapery in varying textures. Yohji' collections are predominately made in black, a colour which Yamamoto has described as "modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy – but mysterious. But above all black says this: "I don't bother you – don't bother me"."[5]

Poor decisions by finance managers pushed the brand into debts of more than US$65 million in 2009, which angered Yamamoto and led to a company restructuring from 2009 to 2010. The private equity firm Integral Corp was identified as the Japanese company who will restructure the Yohji Yamamoto Inc and by November 2010 the company was out of debt and avoiding the risk of bankruptcy.[11]

Fashion advocacy[edit]

In 2008, the Yohji Yamamoto Fund for Peace was established to foster development of China's fashion industry and to help heal the long-standing enmity between China and Japan.[12] Each year, an emerging Chinese designer will be awarded with a two-year scholarship to a fashion college in Japan or Europe, and a male or female Chinese fashion model will be selected to make a runway debut during the Paris prêt-à-porter season.[13]

Yamamoto has been quoted as saying: "they must have so many angry young people. Being a fashion designer or an artist, you have to be angry."[14] Of the fashion show he staged in Beijing in spring 2008 to launch this initiative, Yamamoto said, "It's not political. I am going to open a store here, then Chinese people will come and shop there, and then they are happy. The real art is making people happy, but also asking questions about society."[15]

Brand identity[edit]

Yamamoto's designs recall Japanese drawing techniques. [16]

His technique consists of wide cuts, exotic and luxurious materials and elaborate handicrafts. The designer endeavors to make his clothes from the back and not from the front.[17] He favors dark colors.[18]


  • 1972: Founded Y's joint stock corporation
  • 1977: Tokyo collection debut
  • 1981: Pret a porter collection debut in Paris. Yohji Yamamoto line started at the same time.
  • 1993: Designed costumes for the Heiner Müller & Daniel Barenboim production of Richard Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde at The Bayreuth Festival
  • 1984: Yohji Yamamoto joint stock corporation founded
  • 1996: Designed alongside Red or Dead founders Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway MBE
  • 2002: Haute couture collection presented in Paris. Relationship formed with exclusive Parisian boutiques
  • 2003: Opening of the Y's line flagship store in Roppongi Hills
  • 2003: Y-3 line and collection debut
  • 2011: Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London
  • 2014: Designs third kits for the football club Real Madrid
  • 2019: Designs the All Blacks jerseys for the 2019 Rugby World Cup[19]
  • 2022: Designed a special alternate all-black uniform set for the Yomiuri Giants that was played from September 6-8 against the Yokohama DeNA BayStars[20]




  1. ^ Peter Yeoh (2011). "Contrarian Couturier". Glass Magazine (5). ISSN 2041-6318.
  2. ^ "Yohji Yamamoto Fashion Shows: Designer Directory on Style.com". style.com. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  3. ^ a b "デザイナー山本耀司がフランス芸術勲章の最高位コマンドゥール受章" [Designer Yohji Yamamoto is to receive "Ordre des Arts et des Lettres / Commandeur"]. Excite News. 1 June 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  4. ^ "Radical Elegance – Yohji Yamamoto Garments in Australian Collections" (PDF). 18 October 2007. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  5. ^ a b Tribune, Suzy Menkes, International Herald (5 September 2000). "Fashion's Poet of Black : YAMAMOTO". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Yoji Yamamoto,"Women's Wear Daily (New York). Archived 12 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Yohji Yamamoto biography".
  8. ^ Blog
  10. ^ "Yohji Yamamoto: "People have started wasting fashion"". the-talks.com. 31 August 2011.
  11. ^ "'My anger': Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto opens up about losing his father and his rage at fashion's frivolities". The Independent. London. 21 November 2010. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022.
  12. ^ Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries: "Y's Fashion Show and Auction for Yohji Yamamoto Fund for Peace Held in Beijing." Archived 23 July 2011 at archive.today
  13. ^ Alexander, Hilary. "Yohji Yamamoto: Historic Fashion Initiative," The Telegraph (London). 23 February 2008.
  14. ^ "Yamamoto's Peace Project," Archived 11 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine Vogue (London). 28 April 2008.
  15. ^ Long, Carola. "Yohji Yamamoto: The designer stages his first show in Beijing," The Independent (London). 23 June 2008.
  16. ^ "YOHJI YAMAMOTO – The Philosophy Of A Living Fashion Legend". Spectr. 6 December 2017. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  17. ^ Duka, John (23 October 1983). "YOHJI YAMAMOTO DEFINES HIS FASHION FASHION PHILOSOPHY". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  18. ^ "Yohji Yamamoto Designer Branding | Natie | Branding Agency". Natie. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  19. ^ "adidas release jersey designed by Y-3, made for the all blacks; fusing sport with culture". news.adidas.com. 30 June 2019. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  20. ^ Silbert, Jake (1 August 2022). "Yohji Yamamoto: Poet of Black, Baseball Enjoyer". Highsnobiety. Highsnobiety. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  21. ^ "Yohji Yamamoto - Voguepedia". vogue.com. Archived from the original on 9 February 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2014.

External links[edit]