Kansai Yamamoto has left us, one of the designers that inspired my love of fashion. A brilliantly gifted genius who proved the concept that fashion was art has had thousands of inches written about him, but something in most of that coverage felt off to me, the constant description of him as “David Bowie’s designer” when in fact it should be recognised that Bowie sought him out to help create an entire genre.
A career that started well before, and ended long after Ziggy Stardust should be remembered as so much more than a single moment, albeit a brilliant one that changed music and the world. A year before that album Yamamoto had debuted collections in London and New York. He’d won the Soen prize 7 years before Bowie.
After that period the success didn’t stop, a career that would be littered with plaudits and awards would stretch to the early 1990’s. Then he invented the super show, bringing the concept of the runway as a public event into being, mixing music, fashion and art in front of fans, well over 100,000 in Moscow alone.
“I was given the chance to share an experience that would eventually inform the way I thought about putting on my own shows in the years to come. To this day I am filled with gratitude to Kansai for seeing in me a special spark, and, giving me the wings I needed to fly” – Marc Jacobs
Kansai Yamamoto was so much more than a single look, and the cultural resonance of his work is still part of fashion today, we see it in the structural creations, the use of traditional technique and the exploration of showmanship in the every day. As late as 2018 he was still contributing, working with Louis Vuitton on their collection.
Oh how I wish I hadn’t been so unwell the day I could of met him. Thank you for the beauty.