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  • Hakan Öztunalı

Understanding Yohji Yamamoto

Updated: Feb 27

Yohji Yamamoto’s artistic concept is something legendary which few people can understand. Iconic pieces, dark silhouettes, modesty and a life dedicated to understand concepts. These are the instruments that Yohji Yamamoto follows up and procreate his lyrical fashion shows. Some fashion designers do not need to be interpreted and one of them is Yohji. He is conscious with how to touch a soul, for this reason he can masterfully touch any soul with his artistic creations and there will not be disappointment in the end.

(Courtesy of Yohji Yamamoto)

I have a curiosity about what can be the quintessential of denotations for anything that has purpose or led to it. We usually assign and express emotions to denotations for things to facilitate our life routine or to make our lives joyful.

Likewise attributing new definitions to a lot of daily events is what we do habitually. Any tangible or intangible concept can gain a meaning to be identified.

Yet, some concepts cannot address a meaning and that is what makes them special in the first place. I do not believe that anyone can understand the genuine concept of Yohji’s work and his mind-set. That’s why, Yohji Yamamoto is an iconic special fashion designer.

All of his runway shows takes long time to carry out and I never noticed anyone has bored while watching his runway shows on the stage. His form of presentation with his romantic and classist clothing pieces makes him unique and singular.

Diagonal and asymmetrical shapes, topcoats, dusters, torn dresses, oversized jackets/pants, drapery and other pieces inadequate to understand the underlying reason of the clothes. Perhaps, this is how he is willing to perform and stay hidden from the society. Therefore, people have to make commentary and criticism to comprehend his perspective.

(Yohji Yamamoto Fall 2021 Femme Collection)
(Yohji Yamamoto Fall 2021 Femme Collection)
(Yohji Yamamoto Fall 2021 Femme Collection)


In his boyhood years, Yohji lived a burdensome life. The initial ignite that made him accomplish business and conceptual events as a fashion designer. Besides, he did not want to live an ordinary life.

He desired to manifest himself in society. For good and all, he paid the price to become Yohji Yamamoto. That clears up a lot in terms of finding a meaning to bring valuable purpose for how to live a life and persuade affiliation.

At first blush, we should find a way to communicate with ourselves and then with the others. We should discover our inner energy to become useful, inspirational and build skill-set.

As Yohji Yamamoto advocates: ”Start copying what you love. At the end of the copy you will find yourself.’‘ That clarifies, we have to turn inside out to explore ourselves and start our journey for finding the purpose of anything. And anything will appear to be meaningful at the end of the journey.

Yohji Yamamoto Fall 2021 Femme Collection
Yohji Yamamoto Fall 2021 Femme Collection
(Yohji Yamamoto Fall 2021 Homme Collection)

He creates his fashion around the color black. Formally, black is a shade, so technically it is not a color. It can occur from nothing in the absence of light.

And Yohji uses black as a silhouette in his costume and art design. I adore his designs, because he puts embellishment and provide dissident look to the outer world.

In addition, his allusions are not easy to comprehend which add particular values for his artwork in my perspective.

He believes black is the color of arrogance, rebellion, romanticism, seduction and mystery. He strives to unravel the meaning of it and reconstructing it on his field of work.

Yohji Yamamoto states that: “Black is modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy – but mysterious. But above all black says this: “I don’t bother you – don’t bother me.”

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