Pioneering Japanese designer and visionary of sartorial style, Kansai Yamamoto has passed away. He may not have been a household name but he had a massive, fashion-forward influence on style, especially in setting a higher bar of how pop music and fashion could come together for theatrical rock stars.
His most famous client/model was David Bowie. Yamamoto created original, striking looks for the rocker — including the costumes for Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust persona — and ushered in a new era of visual identity for Bowie in the early 1970s. Other pop stars sought his clothes, notably Elton John and Stevie Wonder. As his obituary in the Guardian points out, Yamamoto’s avant-garde design incorporated Japanese cultural influence such as basara, a flamboyant aesthetic style.
Yamamoto was also the first Japanese designer to bring his work and collections to London and the international fashion-show scene, helping pave the wave for other Japanese designers such as Rei Kawakubo (Comme de Garcons), Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, and even A Bathing Ape (BAPE). His influence extended to some of the most celebrated designers in the West, including Raf Simons, Hedi Slimane and Jean-Paul Gaultier.
RIP, Kansai Yamamoto.