Originally Posted by hendrix
3. Our best buys - things we always wear.
4. How our individual style has developed.
Somewhat along these lines, I had compiled some ideas and other reading material in thinking about this. Below is the resulting mess
An Attempted Heuristic
I'm not sure what's expected here, so I'll just go ahead with some random sources intertwined with my own thoughts. Sorry if this is affected artsy fartsy nonsense suited for overintellectualizing discussions about the irrelevant, I'm not sure how to better impart the simple fact that I enjoy the serene luxury of volume and elegant fabric. I was already familiar, to certain extent, with the works of Yohji Yamamoto many years ago and had come across a few pieces here and there but had never felt compelled to embrace any of it -- either because of some self-conscious malaise or a perceived ideal of what constituted the fashionable, driven almost entirely by externalities. I don't suggest divorcing oneself from context of society, but by putting less emphasis on it removes a judgmental lens of discomfort.ISSEY MIYAKE, YOHJI YAMAMOTO AND REI KAWAKUBO
The Antwerp Six have all cited, at various points, the influence these Japanese avant-garde designers had in their careers. And even more recent generations still draw inspiration from those decades, exemplified by Stephan Schneider's desire for his first Yohji suit before embarking to become a niche forum favorite. Deconstructionist Martin Margiela, in fact, worked with Rei Kawakubo on October 14, 1997 for their joint presentation of Margiela collection in conjunction with Comme des Garçons for Spring/Summer 98 (Paris).
The domination of aesthetic scruples over Japanese life has, as its culminating instance, the tea ceremony - a marvel of constrained social ballet - to the study of which whole lives have been devoted. Associated with this triumph of manners is an art of mood and evocation, in which significance is found in the small, concentrated gesture, the sudden revelation of transcendent meaning in what is most ordinary and unassuming. In the late 18th century Motoori Norinaga, a leading literary scholar, summed up the essence of Japanese art and literature as the expression of a touching intimation of transience, which he captured in the famous phrase mono no aware, meaning roughly “the sensitivity to the sadness of things.” Other aesthetic qualities emphasized by classical scholars and critics are en (“charming”), okashi (“amusing”), and sabi (having the beauty of old, faded, worn, or lovely things). In all such aesthetic categories, we can sense the resonance of the Taoist and Buddhist ideas of renunciation.
It was in the beginning of the 1980s that a new generation of Japanese designers became key players in the international fashion arena. Rei Kawakubo, working under the label Comme des Garçons, and Yohji Yamamoto began to present their collections in Paris along with the already-established Issey Miyake, who can be considered as the founding father of the avant-garde fashion. Those three together formed and started a new school called the ‘Japanese Avant-Garde Fashion’ although it was never their intention to classify themselves as such. Kawakubo (Séguret, 1988: 140) says: ‘We certainly have no desire to create a fashion threesome, but each of us has a strong urge to design new, individual clothes which are recognizably ours. The common effect of this group of individuals, lumped under the label “Japan”, did the rest.’ Miyake (Séguret 1988: 141) also explains the phenomenon: ‘In the Eighties, Japanese fashion designers brought a new type of creativity; they brought something Europe didn’t have. There was a bit of a shock effect, but it probably helped the Europeans wake up to a new value.’
'Kawakubo’s clothes were deliberately designed to look unfinished and worn, defying common sense and challenging notions of perfection. At first she was regarded with revulsion, but this eventually gave way to amazement and admiration (Baudot 1999). Kawakubo (in Ayre 1989: 11) says that ‘Perfect symmetry is ugly…I always want to destroy symmetry’, and it is a perfect summing-up of post-modernism applied to fashion. She wants to question the notion of perfection as something positive and beautiful (Sudjic 1990: 80):
machines that make fabric are more and more able to produce uniform, flawless textures. I like it when something is not perfect. Hand-weaving is the best way to achieve this, but since this isn’t always possible, we loosen a screw on the machines here and there so they can’t do exactly as they are supposed to.'
'Like the shape of the kimono, the designs by Kawakubo, Miyake and Yamamoto were known for being gender neutral or unisex. Gender roles are determined only by social rules and regulations formed by society. Clothing constructs and deconstructs gender and gender differences. Clothing is a major symbol of gender that allows other people to immediately discover the individual’s biological sex. These three Japanese designers challenged the normative gender-specificity in clothes which was the characteristics of Western clothes.'
Rei Kawakubo's approach to the business of fashion design ... is strongly inspired by the values of the contemporary art world. Her first big success in the West came in 1981 with her inaugural Paris show, which made her an overnight sensation and unapologetically illustrated her resolutely modernist philosophy of clothing design. She claimed she wanted "to start from zero," reexamining clothes as if the entire history of costume did not exist. The garments in the initial Paris show seemingly accomplished that goal. With her deconstructed and shapeless dresses in infinite shades of black, Kawakubo questioned all the conventional assumptions of Western fashion, in particular, that clothes should conform to or reshape the body. She simply refused to pander to the usual drama of concealing or revealing the body. In turn, Kawakubo and her intellectuality-imbued schmattes were enthusiastically embraced by devotees of the avant-garde, especially in the New York art community.
Yohji Yamamoto, whose name means ?at the foot of the mountain?, was born in Tokyo in 1943. A son of the era of defeat, obsessed by the ruins on which Japan was building its future, he was raised by his mother, a dressmaker and war widow, who worked 16 hours a day to put him through school. Against his mother's advice, he decided to follow in her footsteps, attending the Bunka school to learn the basics of the trade. In 1969 he was awarded an eight-month study trip to Paris, where he saw the first developments in pr괭୰orter and decided to follow that path.
Back in Tokyo, in 1972 he founded the Y's Company. In 1981 his first Paris show was a shock: fashion had changed direction. A new era was beginning, which would alter our perception of clothing and the female image. ?If fashion -Yamamoto, the most philosophical of fashion designers, says- is just a dress it is not indispensable. But if it is a way of relating to everyday life it becomes very important. Of all the arts, only fashion has the possibility to directly influence people. Fashion is unique, essential communication that involves the sensations experienced by people who wear the clothing they want?. His fashion is a way of being, yet Yamamoto doesn't think of himself as a designer. He prefers to call himself a tailor, or a craftsman who looks for the essence of things: ?a carpenter -he says- works with his hands to reach the essence of the chair; I do the same thing to find the essence of the dress?. Wim Wenders in the film Notebook on Cities and Clothes, aiming the camera at Yamamoto's ascetic face, his measured gestures, his monastic spaces and, through briefly, at his clothes, has distilled his philosophy.
Takeishi Kitano, the renowned Japanese filmmaker, asked him to do the costumes for the film Dolls, bringing out the ritual, almost fatal character of his fashion. Which perhaps should not even be called fashion, because Yamamoto doesn't pay attention to fashions or trends: he is interested in people, real people, like those photographed in the book People of the 20th Century by August Sander, a great source of inspiration. He has studied every detail of those images. In the film he shows them to Wim Wenders, describing not the clothing but the character of the people. On the workers' overalls he says ?they are something to be proud of, while the clothing of the gypsy speaks of disorientation, and the six-button vest of the merchant speaks of dignity. Those people -he concludes-are wearing reality, they could live their whole life wearing the same clothes?.
The clothes on display at Palazzo Pitti have been selected by Yamamoto himself based on their correspondences to the 19th-century spaces that contain them. The exhibition design by Masao Nihei, a long-time collaborator of Yamamoto, makes plenty of use of natural light entering through partially closed shutters. The clothes, always facing toward the Boboli gardens, and the artworks are never directly lit. The tones of the lights, softened by amber gels, accentuate a sort of relationship between softnesses: those of the old decorations and artworks and those of the silhouettes. The itinerary is marked by red bubbles, 23 cm in diameter, alternating with large reflecting silver disks placed near the clothes to attract attention with reflexes of light. At the end of the show's itinerary, in the Sala del Fiorino, 36 dresses are arrayed to bid farewell to the guests. In the Music Room, behind a cage made with metal pipes, there is a large bamboo skirt, four meters in diameter.
The cage is open, you can enter and touch before leaving the gallery. The dummies, similar to those immortalized by De Chirico, mingle with the visitors. The clothes seem to have entered on tiptoe, they are accessible, with an almost everyday appearance in this context. They reveal themselves, though they belong to different seasons, of today and forever. The Florentine show offered an opportunity to learn more about the secret of this timeless quality.
Fashion is ephemeral, identity is permanent: how can they be reconciled?
?I don't like the word identity. I don't like to be told I've been understood. The identity of my clothes is that of the person who chooses them. Leaving something unfinished permits a new approach to events. The key to any creation is to leave it incomplete?. (...)
Bridging the Art/Commerce Divide:
Cindy Sherman and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons
As philosopher Roland Barthes has observed, fashion photography is generally governed by a "garment-photograph-caption" formulation, an apt description that cannot, however, be applied to Sherman's interpretation of Comme des Garçons clothes. Her photographs center on disjointed mannequins and bizarre characters, forcing the clothing itself into the background. The lithe, physically ideal fashion model, so integral to the pages of Vogue, Glamour, and Elle, is nowhere to be seen. In her place are a menagerie of confrontationally unpretty surrogates, like the garishly made-up mannequin in Sherman's Untitled (#302).
]NATURES AND GEOMETRIES:Fukinsei (asymmetry or dissymmetry)
- Balanced symmetry, as humans devise it, does not exist often on nature. Therefore, it is better to make designs asymmetrical if one wishes to create an impression of naturalness.Kanso (simplicity or brevity)
- “Less is more” This idea is most evident in Zen gardens, where a single stone may encompass the idea of an entire mountain or island. Remove what is unnecessary, and the composition will be strengthened.Yugen
- Subtly profound, suggestion reather than revelation.Datsuzoku
- unworldliness, transcendence of conventional.Seijaku
- quiet, calm, silent.Koko
- (austerity, maturity, bare essentials, venerable, abstraction) - Water is a prime element of a garden, but raked gravel or carefully arranged flat river stones can create the impression of water.Contrast
- Contrast can be used to create tension between elements. Tension can create energy, motion and harmony.Lines
- Perpendicular lines create tranquillity. Diagonals create tension. Curves soften the effect.Ma (space)
- There is openness in everything and nothing exists alone. All objects interact with one another in space. In fact, the space of the garden only exists because there is a larger space outside of it. Where is the space in the composition? Why? How does the composition breathe?Layers of time
- Some parts of a composition change with the weather or the angle of the sun. Some change with the season. Others, like stone, hardly change at all for centuries. Yet time changes everything eventually. Good design considers this.Meigakure
- This is the quality of remaining hidden from ordinary view. All compositions have a best viewing angle. Find it or create it and control how the viewer approaches and is able to see the composition. For example, bonsai are, in essence, two-dimensional views designed to be viewed from the front only. Set your garden path so that only a single branch of the cherry tree can be seen around the corner and you guarantee the viewer will round that corner. Design the viewer’s experience, not just the garden. On the other hand, do not over-complicate.Wabi and Sabi
- Two of the hardest concepts of Japanese aesthetics to express in western language, generally they are wabi; “subdued taste”, “austere”, and sabi; “rustic simplicity”, “mellowed”. These terms were created by the Tea masters of the sixteenth century.Shin, Gyo, So
- Shin; controlled or shaped by man, So; things in their natural state, Gyo; the blending of Shin and So to compliment each other.
As most commentators on Japanese aesthetics agree, the Japanese
aesthetic is pervaded by a profound affirmation of things in their suchness
or original uniqueness, and at the same time is tinged with an element of
sadness or melancholy. While the responses of affirmation and melancholy
seem rather subjective and may--at first glance--appear inconsistent with
Buddhist notions like anatman, or non-see and the Buddhist demand for
non-attachment, ... a more careful reading of certain
Buddhist doctrines, specifically the doctrine of dependent origination or
pratitya-samutpada, reveals that the basic tenets of Buddhism are not only
consistent with these sorts of subjective responses, but in fact serve to
help explain the dual nature of the Japanese aesthetic...[g]iven the undeniable influence Buddhism has had on
Japanese culture, it seems likely that the doctrine of dependent
origination is not only compatible with, but also contributed to the
formation of what we regard as the Japanese aesthetic.
In Zen and Japanese Culture, Suzuki states that the Japanese aesthetic is
characterized by "imbalance, asymmetry, the `one-corner,' poverty, sabi or
wabi, aloneness and cognate ideas".  According to Suzuki, the Japanese
aesthetic is pervaded by a profound recognition and acknowledgement of the
beauty of things in their suchness, or tathata,  and at the same time is
tinged with an element of sadness or melancholy.
[T]he realization of dependent
origination prompts both joy and melancholy because while initiating the
individual into an infinite network of interrelation, because of the
immeasurable complexity of this network and the fact that it challenges the
individual's conventional understanding, joy may be tempered with sadness.
Ultimately, as Shingo states in The Sound of the Mountain, acceptance of
dependent origination forces one to admit the wonderful and at the same
time sobering truth that, "[h]appiness ... might be just such a matter of
the fleeting instant". 
I've always thought of la mode
as a means of manifesting fuzzy ideals in our minds.
Those ideals are subject to change, as are our expressions, as we evolve over time.
My enjoyment comes from the ease with which I feel Yohji garments can be worn, imparting a sense of fluid tranquility.
Sizing is no more than an afterthought -- truly a function of height alone. Often I dress myself by randomly picking pieces from my closet, a peripheral glance in the mirror if that.
There's an overabundance of evidence illustrating this point, from short (the man is 5'5 himself) stocky people and tall bean poles, all magnificently placid. This is why I feel it is all just a reflection of one's comfort.
Some plagiarized points to ponder:
- in creating an object, does its maker retain an overriding privilege to its interpretation?
- must the relationship necessarily be between the designer and the consumer?
- a small man suffering from an inflated opinion of his own critical authority had said that its the narrative that ennobles the ordinary in clothing, elevating it to fashion.
- that narrative as a PR measure, brilliantly wielded by some and ineffective in less capable hands. critics like to cling to this because it supposedly grants them some participation in the process.
- plenty of buyers will give practically anything a chance when good words of endorsement have been written in this blog or that. for a season or two. but the kind of consumer will proceed on to whatever the next thing is just as quickly. in a world of pop-up shops, why are people surprised to see what amounts to pop-up labels?
- reducing one's own relationship as 'wanting to be a a part of the designer's imagined universe' is pretty pervasive. those engaging in the sort of consumption (or afflicted with it?) are used to having things fully formed and ready for consumption. and, if one's goal is to be consumed as much as possible, it is helpful to have the sort of image that comes out the other end of popular consciousness after it digests you.
More comprehensive gallery, should anyone be interested in navigating a sea of dimensions across time
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Came across some other interesting photosYohji Yamamoto Antwerp flagship store opening
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
[hr]Kiyokazu Washida's たかが服、されど服
Include some runway pics from aw81 up until 2000. Thanks @Asobu
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
a/w 81-82, s/s 83
s/s 84, a/w 83-84
s/s 85, a/w 84-85
a/w 88-89, s/s 88
a/w 85-86, s/s 85
a/w 85-86, s/s 86
a/w 91-92 6.1 THE MEN
a/w 91-92, a/w 92-93, s/s 91
a/w 91-92, s/s 91
a/w 91-92, s/s 92
a/w 94-95, s/s 94
a/w 94-95, s/s 94
s/s 95, a/w 94-95
s/s 95, a/w 94-95
a/w 93-94, a/w 94-95
a/w 95-96 The SAPPORO Collection
a/w 95-96, s/s 95
s/s 96, s/s 97
a/w 96-97 The NEW YORK Collection
s/s 96, a/w 96-97
s/s 97, a/w 97-98
a/w 99-00, ss00
*Begin Journey*Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)