Yohji Yamamoto is 71, a legend of fashion, master of the aesthetic avant-garde, and captain of his own ship. So it seems disrespectful not to quote in full what he said of Y-3, his consistently interesting collaboration with Adidas, to Style.com before today’s show.
“I’ve been doing this 13 years already. At the beginning moment I was inspired by sneaker culture. At that time I felt like I became too far from street. I was looking for how to come back to street. Then I hit the sneaker. And I made a phone call to Nike. They gave me a very proper answer: ‘Thank you very much, Mr. Yamamoto, but we are going never to fashion, we are going only to sportswear.’ Very nice answer: ‘OK, thank you very much.’ Then I called Adidas: ‘Why don’t you work with me because I am interested in the sneaker.’ Instantly they said yes. And then, like after seven or eight years, Y-3 outfit became a little bit boring. Casual outfit. So I felt, this is not my job. We should stop or continue—we had an argument, inside company. But finally we arrived at continue—[but] if continue, we should do something more sport in spirit, because in the world there are so many people who are motorcycling, jogging, and their wear is very attractive even if they are using terrible color like neon yellow. Functionality. So I told my team of Y-3, ‘Let’s go back to sport.’ This collection should be motion and action.”
And that it was. Much of both motion and action was provided by the sinuous extensions of the TAO Dance Theater, whose performance both preceded and paralleled this show. But the clothes held drama too. “I don’t bother you,” read the neon slogan of a T-shirt worn under a diaphanously fishtailed bomber-cum-parka: “Don’t bother me,” read the back. As in Yamamoto’s mainline collection, there were plenty of stripe motifs, incorporated here both as homage to his collaborator and reference to the hazards they so often indicate. Both for men and women, Y-3 continues to operate as a uniquely pure experiment into the potential for sportswear to metamorphosis into something beyond the limits of its conception. Everything else is fashion pretending to be sportswear. Or, worse, sportswear pretending to ignore fashion when it’s doing anything but. Yamamoto might well be feeling a little weary with the wheel he is chained to. As he said: “Every time I make a show, I put pressure on me—Yohji—to go to the next. What is next? Who knows?” That’s an eternal question whose answer—even when you get it right—lasts only for six months.