Yohji Yamamoto at the V&A

From 12 March – 10 July 2011, the V&A presented Yohji Yamamoto at the V&A, a retrospective of the work of visionary Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto. Conceived as a site-specific installation with its core in Gallery 38 and small interventions throughout the V&A, Yamamoto’s menswear collections were included in the display of his work for the first time. Each space took its own meaning within the narrative of the exhibition which explored Yohji Yamamoto’s design world.Exhibition curator Ligaya Salazar documented the evolution of the exhibition and offers an insight into the research, design and installation process.

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Yohji Yamamoto Catalogues

Yohji Yamamoto’s approach to collaboration has always been special in that he has allowed his collaborators exceptional creative freedom. The timeline will feature some of the most remarkable and now iconic photographic renderings of his work, the beautifully conceived catalogues. These catalogues went far beyond a mere lookbook and were art directed, photographed and designed by now leading figures in the industry, such as Marc Ascoli, Nick Knight, Peter Saville, Paolo Roversi, M/M (Paris), Max Vadukul, Craig McDean, Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. As these publications are very tactile and considered, it was important not only for them to …

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Dressing the mannequins

In another corner of the museum, conservators and interns are hard at work making the underpinnings for the garments and dressing as many as we can before we start moving them in the gallery and the satellite spaces. It is really great to see a little army forming in the our object stores

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The build installation

On Friday 4 February the gallery was handed over to us and since Monday 7 our build contractors have moved in to begin the process of making Mr.Nihei’s vision reality. As the walls are already painted in the lovely grey and white that will dominate the aesthetics of this exhibition, the first major task for the Factory Settings team will be to lay the bright white floor. Once this is completed, they will begin erecting the black powder-coated scaffold structure which will play host to and demarcate the multi-media timeline. Only then will we be able to start plotting the …

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Editing the video footage

Having just completed the selection of edits for all the fashion shows, films and performances we will be showing in the exhibition, I thought it would be nice to share a few links to Yohji Yamamoto fashion shows that will wet your appetite. Of course, there will be more and rarer footage in the exhibition and you will get the pleasure of seeing some great snippets of Mr. Yamamoto’s costume design for filmmaker Takeshi Kitano and theatre director Heiner Mueller. A/W 2009-10 femme http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytZ3jlVo1NU&feature=channel A/W 2009-10 homme http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8bQFLgwTSs&playnext=1&list=PL8A19E28C6D6D938A Madness at Yohji Yamamoto's menswear show, Autumn/Winter 2004-05, Photograph by Monica Feudi

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Spring/Summer 2011 show preparations

For the last womenswear show, I had the pleasure and privilege to observe the goings-on at Yamamoto’s Paris HQ and Espace Vendôme, the show venue, in the hours and days before the show went live. When the models are chosen the day before the show, they are allocated outfits individually on the day before the show: some will only show one look, others up to four, depending on how their personalities suit the garments. Yamamoto chooses the look, gestures, says a few words, he and the team move around quietly to adjust details. Eugene Souleiman and Pat McGrath, the hair …

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The final image!

I am pleased to be able to show you the wonderful composite image Nick Knight has produced for us to act as the lead marketing image for the show. It combines a look from Yohji Yamamoto’s Autumn-Winter 2009-10 show made from bright red and black boiled wool shot in action with an image of our wonderful Cast Courts. Photography Nick Knight, Art direction Peter Saville

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Enter 2011

After a few weeks of work-induced silence, we have been quietly getting on with the task of putting this wonderful exhibition up. Two weeks to go until we start build installation and a lot has been happening in the stores of the V&A. We received the crates full of Yohji Yamamoto treasures early January and the Conservation team has been busy condition checking each of the pieces carefully and assessing whether it needs to go through a heat treatment called Thermo Lignum. This treatment ensures that anything that might have made itself comfortable in the clothes (particularly in natural protein-rich …

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The Timeline

A further aspect to the design and curation of this exhibition, will be a multi-media timeline which will highlight aspects of Yohji Yamamoto’s wider creative output. As I am currently writing the labels for this part of the exhibition, I thought I would share this with you. The timeline will consist of a mixture of clips of key fashion shows from the last 30 years of his illustrious career, some bits about his main collaborations in film, performance and photography and some very special extras. I hope that this will help shed light on Yamamoto’s extraordinary approach to collaboration. As …

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Men’s Show Spring/Summer 2011 and Lighting

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of attending Yohji Yamamoto’s Spring/Summer 2011 Menswear show. This was particularly interesting for two reasons. First of all, as soon as the first model stepped on the catwalk a sense of familiarity set in. Dressed in an off-white linen jacket with cross-stitch patches of embroidery, a light purple shirt with a bow and cropped trousers in a rich floral pattern seemingly inspired by William Morris, he looked liked he had been dipped in the V&A’s collections. As the show continued to unfold, I noticed another potential nod to our upcoming exhibition: the lighting! …

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Mannequin Assessment

Once the object selection is finalised, we have to go through a process of assessing mannequins. Finding the right mannequin is more complex than it looks. After gathering and classifying the mannequins we can reuse, each piece is assigned to a different one depending on its requirements. Some pieces need mannequins that work with trousers, others might need arms, or heads, as some of the looks also include hats. After this we can decide whether we need to order any other mannequins, and the conservation department can assess whether work needs to be done in terms of underpinning and padding …

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