by Alex Veblen
What a bunch of beardos! That could be one takeaway impression of Yohji Yamamoto's latest collection, which featured models who resembled rogue contestants from the World Beard and Moustache Championships. But once the eye grew accustomed to all the faux facial hair—bleached, fluffed, crimped, coiffed—it could focus on the madcap layering and schizophrenic sobriety.
The show got underway to the accompaniment of bagpipes, and the first half dozen looks seemed classic Yohji—jackets that buttoned slightly off center, superfluous pockets or attachments, and cropped, roomy pants. A Scottish message was delivered (with much creative license) by long sweaters over suits, kilts with fun fur inserts, and a single tartan suit in tablecloth red.
Often, the models would make contact with one another, for better or worse. There were salutes, shoulder brushes, and even a stink-eye or two. Presumably this was to underscore their eccentricity, but the clothes had enough to say on their own. Apronlike layers that draped low below jackets conveyed bartender braggadocio; animal-print knit robes and sweatpants screamed the language of Stephen Sprouse; and matted faux fur coats suggested pimps with a conscience. Too bad Yamamoto's nifty idea to add a line of buttons up a jacket's double vents was canceled out by the bulky, shaggy shorts that closed the show.
Afterward, the designer named August Sander, the revered German photographer from the early twentieth century, as a starting point. Yet if the models channeled Sander's portraits, they were equally absurdist. The collection was unhinged, but satisfyingly bold. When asked whether he felt this collection carried on the spirit of his previous work or represented a departure, Yamamoto answered the latter. How so? His next three—and final—words spoke volumes: "Not so serious."