Yohji Yamamoto – ‘Yohji Making Waves’
Last week I spoke to Yohji Yamamoto, in a rare interview, at the site of “Yohji Making Waves” at the Wapping Project, East London. The designer, currently enjoying a huge retrospective at London’s V&A, posed for photographs in front of his silk wedding dress with bamboo crinoline (1998), suspended in the Project’s Boiler House, which had been flooded with water by the fire brigade the previous day.
It was a surreal occasion, not least because the tsunami had hit Japan the same morning; Yamamoto was clearly tired, jet-lagged, and I suspect worried about events which only escalated over the ensuing days. Yamamoto is also notoriously a man of few words, and this presumably was compounded by the occasion and his mood, and the fact that he possibly didn’t fancy answering a journalist’s questions on such a grim, weirdly prophetic morning. For what it is worth, here is the transcript of what he said. In no way did he come across as if he was making light of what had happened; he seemed, if anything, to be in something of a daze about it and I doubt anyone behind the exhibition, or him, had any idea what would go on to happen. All this meant we didn’t get enough for a full interview; but I still think it is worth publishing his quotes, if only to give an insight into his state of mind.
“What happened this morning is a huge surprise. This is the biggest wave so far and no one could imagine that this would happen. All I have felt is just worry about everything. I tried to make a phone call. But it was cut off.
I feel exactly like this. A wave. I can’t explain. We will see. Because this is also my 30-year anniversary since I started showing in Paris. It means something. I cannot imagine what the next 30 years will bring because maybe I’ll not be alive. The next wave will be shorter. But I am sure the next wave comes the strongest. I am thinking what I will do will not only be fashion. I am thinking after all these years I think I can do everything, or anything I want. My next project is a secret. I can’t talk about it now.
When I die, I think maybe I wish I had brought more love. Psychologically. I would have liked to have brought love to people. I do not want to leave proof of my job to people. I just want to leave love. I want to leave others to do the retrospectives of my work. I have kept singing the same song.
Regarding the young, you are better going out as a backpacker from your country because you will find your future. You will find your home. I travelled a lot when I gave up law and became a hippy.
When I feel very tired I question myself about what am I doing. Should I do it more? I feel somebody is pushing me from behind. Do it. And I don’t know who it is. I have no memory about my father. I don’t say it’s him.
Regarding John [Galliano], what about alcohol? I have a strong question about alcohol. Alcohol is legal? Like cigarettes. You can’t smoke in the building? I am a smoker. So I feel like I am a crime. How about alcohol? Alcohol can change a personality and is still legal. This is my question when you talk about John. I have no communication with him, no connection. My friend is Marc Jacobs. When I have to speak to a young designer who is close to me, it is Marc. I don’t know John Galliano personally.
Anything cannot surprise me. I was feeling that Comme des Garçons, has been my rival. But I am not admiring them. I was feeling she has been my rival. And Alexander McQueen has been my rival. So if you ask me whom I admire; there’s nobody.
It might sound arrogant to say after establishing two young companies I feel 10 times fresher and nicer than before.”
Yohji Making Waves is at The Wapping Project, Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, Wapping Wall, E1W 3SG, until 10 July. For more information call 0207 680 2080.
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