With the stage set by the Coconogacco students that they themselves have tutored, the finale of the Zetsumei exhibition comes courtesy of the leaders of the school (and leaders of Japanese fashion) Mikio Sakabe and Yoshikazu Yamagata. Each took their turn to take over the platform, Mikio as ever bringing us the “now”, new shapes, new silhouettes, Harajuku street fashion that feeds off and back into the moment, but Yamagata’s brand WrittenAfterwards taking every opportunity to avoid committing to a collection, choosing instead to tell a story in at least 3 parts in a series of installations and shows that will at some point give way to a collection in time. Remember that his 7th collection “The Seven Gods” took us in a journey that first established his characters, one of whom was a designer who put on a deliberately disastrous collection (fashion show here) that resulted in the designer’s death, place in heaven and finally a prayer mat placed at his feet. It was actually that tapestry that was the final “product” of the collection. He has done the same with stories that culminate in globe-shaped backpacks, woven clothes pegs accessories, and yes, very rarely actual clothes. He is a designer for whom the logic or process of fashion is key, the context he creates is his fashion and the alternative fashion scene in Tokyo is more than happy to hang on his every word, because they know that even if the story does not go anywhere, the ride will be worth it.
This time you join us at the beginning of his 8th story, a princess with her child helpers. Yamagata tells me that they are off somewhere in space, a star whose supplies of fabric have been run low leaving them to cherish every last bit of fabric and make their clothes out of recycled patches. Of course I was trying to jump ahead to references of Aomori “boro” peasant wear, when cotton was historically banned for use by the lower classes, or even to the rationing of cotton during the Pacific War. Needless to say that conclusion from Yamagata will come in time, but he did confirm that the next part of the journey would see them on earth in search of new textile possibilities.
A fanciful story certainly, but a welcome alternative to the fashion of the official week that starts today.
For now enjoy the flow of events as the procession reaches the loom spaced space shuttle, before it blasts off to earth:
The one key idea WrittenAfterwards was keen to point out was that this is a story of Japan, and no doubt he has something pointed to say before this story arc is concluded.
The designer Yoshikazu Yamagata sat to my left throughout the show, observing every last detail before nodding his head in lieu of taking a bow – every last convention of what a fashion show is is open to negotiation by this man, and I hope you will stick with me to see where he takes us.