Eclectic, forerunner of a genderless fashion with which only today we begin to familiarize ourselves, Kansai Yamamoto, who disappeared as a result of a leukemia at 76 years old, was one of the most important and loved Japanese stylists, together with his contemporary Kenzo (88 years old) outside the Rising Sun. The death is on July 22, but the news was later given by his daughter Mirai, who remembered him on his Instagram profile.
He was a protagonist of the nonconformist environment of London in the 70s: gave life to the alter ego of David Bowie or Ziggy Stardust, creating those original, ante-punk outfits for which he has become famous, ending with those costumes in dozens of exhibitions starting with ‘David Bowie is’ at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Bold avant-garde pieces that challenged the rules of male / female clothing, powerful in bright colors and bright motifs. The shot of Masayoshi Sukita with Bowie dressed in the Tokyo Pop, the suit made by Yamamoto is one of those masterpiece photos of the history of music and fashion, united under the sign of ‘glam rock’. The collaboration and friendship with Bowie characterized a good part of his golden age, allowing him to become a point of reference for other designers starting from jean paul Gaultier, continuing with Hedi Slimane and Raf Simons. Yamamoto had made the Japanese culture of origin his own and certainly not forgotten, but unlike his other colleagues and what we consider to be ‘the Japanese style’, his era a far from minimalist fashion and skinny.
Yamamoto was born on February 8, 1944 in Yokohama and before devoting himself to fashion he had studied as a civil engineer. The Japanese concept of ‘basara’, the flashy aesthetic, was his particular inspiration since the first fashion show, young 27 year old in 1971 in London. That show made history: Yamamoto was the first Japanese designer in the English capital and it was on that occasion that characters such as Stevie Wonder, Elton John and precisely Bowie were noticed. For Ziggie Stardust’s tour, Bowie asked the designer all the outfits as they say today. Thus an exceptional collaboration was born: Bowie was attracted to Yamamoto’s ability to design excessive and sculptural pieces that seemed unconstrained by such boundaries. In turn, Yamamoto had been impressed with Bowie’s ability to put this modern, unconventional aesthetic into traditional popular culture. In the following years the stylist, moved to Paris, had remained faithful to his style which he presented in much more than fashion shows, in real super shows that from Europe then turned on tour in Asia.