On rare occasion, runway shows take place that transcend fashion and into the realm of performance art. While these unique instances occur with increasing scarcity, Yohji Yamamoto’s spring/summer 1999 presentation will forever serve as a preeminent example of such cases, having transported show-goers into a transitory state of uninterrupted artistic bliss.
In the late 1990s, Yohji Yamamoto – fascinated by the complexities associated with the western tradition of weddings – presented two collections inspired by this theme. For spring/summer 1999, the latter of the two shows, Yamamoto maintained his position as a figurehead of avant-garde fashion, all while proving himself a hopelessly modern romantic. The designer showcased his curiosities surrounding tradition through the collection’s abstract narrative and exploration of nuptial dress.
While the show progressed in the manner of a wedding ceremony, with secondary male roles enacted by a select cast of accompanying men – including a cameo by André Leon Talley – abstract ritualistic moments were also conveyed through creative means. Female models sauntered down the open runway, transforming garments and undressing for all to witness. These simple, somewhat erotically driven acts of manipulating silhouettes or removing articles to reveal new garments below, was a creative means of illustrating the layers of stories and underlying intricacies associated with marriage. While the collection’s silhouettes were straightforward and the color pallet remained muted, Yamamoto, furthering his exploration into the various shades of black and white, the designer employed accessories as a primary means of experimentation. From romantic bouquets rendered in tulle and dramatic hats covered in feathers, to subtle while gloves and the occasional neckpiece, Yamamoto touched on every detail of a traditional wedding ceremony, exploring each facet with careful consideration and ease. This remarkable collection personifies the power and artistic potential of fashion, only to be made more moving by the emotional response of the audience, bursting, throughout the show, into episodes of uncontrollable applause.