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Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear 01/10/2016

Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear

An abstracted X-ray image tacked onto torn black paper served as the invitation to this season's Yohji Yamamoto show. “This invitation is about my feelings,” Yamamoto said after a characteristically contemplative show. “During my time in the fashion business, I’ve felt very alone.” Take a moment to appreciate such candor, whether or not you relate to it. Could the designer have unpacked this collection’s asymmetries, suspended states of undress, forced imperfections, or painted urges, and revealed as much? Likely not. He did, however, provide the surprising inspiration for his black body wrapping, which had the effect of inextricably linking garment to skin. In 1937, Jean Cocteau staged L’Œdipe Roi (Oedipus Rex) in Paris starring Jean Marais. And it was Coco Chanel who costumed the actor’s body in white bandages, subsequently earning her widespread disapproval.For several seasons, Yamamoto’s work has been met with higher industry praise even though he hasn’t much changed his dark, deconstructive refrain. It’s a perception shift, essentially. People feel he’s relevant again. The two red coats that torqued around the body with awkward elegance reminded everyone, like a flashing train light, that this aesthetic had been his domain long before the phenomenal rise of Vetements. One could speculate that these latest strikingly reconfigured jacket silhouettes, combined with the traces of paint marking their surfaces, were inspired by the designer’s fluctuating moods. They expose a level of vulnerability more common in art. Here’s a thought: In 2018, once this show’s venue, the Bourse de Commerce, has been transformed into an art museum belonging to Francois Pinault’s foundation, those silhouettes would make a fine installation.For now though, the sloped pockets floating randomly atop ivory shirtdresses and the braided cords running down the inside of a jacket presented themselves as unsolvable clues. More readable was the designer’s handwritten signature, which he threaded lengthwise into various looks (he sheepishly conceded that this was “commercial”). As with the other Japanese fashion masters, you find yourself asking of Yamamoto, “Do I want to wear something I cannot explain?” Most of the time, in his case, the answer is yes.

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