Delphine Matthieussent, AFP
Last updated: 11 July, 2012

Don’t miss Yamamoto’s avant-garde designs

The geometric structures and angular light in Israel’s ultra-modern Design Museum Holon offer a made-to-measure setting for a new retrospective by avant-garde fashion maestro Yohji Yamamoto.

More than 80 of the designer’s creations spanning three decades went on show this week, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Japan.

It also marks the 40th anniversary of the company started by Yamamoto, now 69, who began his career in Japan in the 1970s and rose to international fame a decade later with his elegant cut, sober colours and fascination with fabrics.

The show in Holon is the latest in a series of retrospectives held since 2005 in Florence, Paris, Antwerp and London.

“But it’s never the same exhibition. We adapt it to the people and the places,” said Coralie Gauthier, a spokeswoman for Yamamoto’s fashion house.

“We’re not just bringing our show to Israel, we are doing a show for Israelis, for the museum,” she told AFP.

Opened in 2010, Design Museum Holon, like Yamamoto’s creations, challenges tradition. Conceived by Ron Arad, Israel’s best-known contemporary architect, its striking exterior is made of massive orange and mauve steel ribbons that curve around the building.

“We found in this museum that there was something balanced between the place and the clothes that we didn’t experience in other cities. It is the first time that it is so harmonious,” said Shohei Otsuka, president of Yohji Yamamoto Inc.

For curator Galit Gaon, Yamamoto and Arad share a “great respect for the individual, who is always at the centre of their creation.”

The exhibition, which runs through October, shows both mens’ and womenswear. The garments are displayed on headless figurines, suspended as if floating above ground and set off by sunlight that cuts into the galleries in geometric shapes or a crimson glow through coloured panes.

The women’s pieces are surprisingly colourful while the menswear is more in line with the designer’s signature style — dark shades, elegant cut, discreet detailing.

In true Yamamoto style, the clothes drape the body, never constrict it — like the museum, curator Gaon says, which “is on a human scale.”

“It does not make one feel small, crushed, as in so many museums.”