When in financial troughs, many designers often opt to play it safe by sticking to the classics. However, Japanese designer, Yohji Yamamoto (also known to have filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009), known for his avant garde spirits and as one of the key players who brought Japanese fashion into the spotlight, manages to retain his signature amplified volumes and drapey shapes in his latest Y-3 delivery, while fusing in fashion's favorite element-- rock and roll. When British band, The Duke Spirit, drummed it up on stage and gave an electrifying opening, we were slightly apprehensive where a played out inspiration might go. But, much to our relief, Yamamoto has proven that a tried and abused inspiration can indeed stay fresh and enlightening if well executed with an open mind.
Yesterday, Yamamoto and adidas sent Y-3's Spring/Summer 2011 collection down a U-shaped runway bedazzled with large mirror panels and elevated stage where The Duke Spirit performed an explosive live session for the runway presentation at the Park Armory. If we want to look for a narrative continuation, Y-3 continues on with a rebellious spirit after last season's futuristic vagabond speeding down the runway in flow coats and artfully haphazard layering. Escapism lives on through rock and roll this season, and while we are used to rock and roll and music and fashion as a combination (need we remind all that Converse Chuck Taylors is perhaps the most frequent guest at rock concerts through the ages), Yamamoto does with surprise, flair and sex appeal.
Bondage sports bras criss-crossed in artful nonchalance in the back, and bedazzled studded chains drape across the bodies, vests and light, colorful velvety blazers. Yamamoto takes us on a journey of rock through the ages, using his own aesthetics as a narrative voice. Hot and heavy leather jackets of the 60s transgressed into psychedelic painterly prints of the 70s, which have found themselves onto women's cropped puffy sleeved jackets and blouses, then we move on to the opulent 80s where Yamamoto re-imagined a Victorian rock grunge with striped, candy-shaded soft velvet tuxedo throws.
And of course, in true Yamamoto fashion, volume is key. Men stomped through the runway in over-sized trousers held up with suspenders, and the amplified waist is topped off with a ripping sleeves top. Women strutted with corseted black sports bras paired with vests or fitted painterly jackets over flowy harem pants or floor grazing sarong skirts.
With this collection, the party goes on in the back, just like how the best rock shows are often in the most clandestine and seedy spots. Yamamoto has tapped the brains of Japanese artist, Yoko Ono (who is also an icon in music) to help embellish as eries of coats and t-shirts with her text gems-- "Open Your Eyes, Open Your Door, Open Your Legs, Open Your Sides, Open Your Heart, Open Your Mouth". Aside from Ono's provocative statements, bedazzled guitar outlines, hanging chains and bondage straps draws attention to the back.
In terms of footwear, women continue to walk the world in statement wedges featuring adidas three-stripes on the heel that has a cut-out, reformed rock and roll boot shape on the upper. There is also a new lightweight Kubo shoe which features a fully fordable sole that will make its wearer feel like he or she is walking on air. Since this season is about rock and roll, everything is high gloss and high shine with reflective threading and treatment, and of course, at times embellished. For men, new classic footwear shapes such as oxfords and oxford boots pushes the envelop of stylish sportswear into a new realm for Y-3.
Sadly, Yamamoto was not present at the show for he was working on his femme collection for Paris, but editors and attendees such as Bambou, Lulu Gainsborg, Leigh Lezard, Alison Brie and Geordon Nicol came out, put their hands up and rocked on with Y-3. Open your mind, and take a sneak peek into Spring/Summer 2011 for Y-3.