Oriole Cullen talks Fashion in Motion: Yohji Yamamoto
Q: Could you just tell us a little about Fashion in Motion?
Fashion in Motion was started by the V&A in 1999 and the idea behind it was to bring movement into the garments in the museum. The problem for us is with preserving clothing in the museum, we always try and keep it on a static mannequin with low light, those are the best conditions for archive pieces. But we felt that, obviously fashion is made to be worn and to be seen in movement, so our curator Claire Wilcox instigated the first Fashion in Motion show in 1999. It’s a great way of seeing clothing on live models and showing how it moves and drapes on the body. For that we do not use the V&A clothing, but items that belong to the designers.
Q: What is it about Yohji Yamamoto that is special?
Well, of course at the moment we have a wonderful Yohji Yamamoto retrospective in the museum and we were really delighted when he agreed to do the Fashion in Motion show. It’s really exciting for us because alongside showing the garments in the exhibition we can show collections, and we are looking at his Spring/Summer 2011 collections, so now we have a chance to bring his wider audience in and see them on models.
Q: What is typically involved in staging a Fashion in Motion event?
Fashion in Motion is a very large-scale event. Obviously we have a very unique venue and that is a fantastic thing, but it also brings a lot of limitations working within a museum. We are surrounded by a lot of very precious objects and we have a lot of people working on the build to create this space, so it’s a process that takes a few months and we work very closely with our fashion show producers and also with the designers to put the show together.
Q: And what, in your view, makes a great catwalk spectacle?
Every show that we do here really differs and I think it is very important to remain true to the designer that you are working with, so that is why we work very closely with them. I think it is very important to try and create a space and a stage that they are happy with, that really reflects their work.
Q: This show uses real couples as models. How did you decide on doing that?
Well, that was something Yohji was very keen on doing. He wanted to replicate something he had done for his Spring/Summer 1999 Menswear collection, which was to use street-casting in Paris. So we did a casting here in London to have couples from this city to wear the clothing for Spring/Summer 2011 so I think it gives, as Yohji says, he really likes to see the dynamic of people together and how they wear the clothing. It just adds an extra layer of interest and shows how people wear their clothes.
V&A Fashion curator, Oriole Cullen discusses the latest Fashion in Motion, featuring work by design legend Yohji Yamamoto.