R.I.P Kansai Yamamoto

David Bowie with Kansai Yamamoto 1973

R.I.P the Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto, who passed away after suffering from leukemia. He was brilliant, and his flamboyant style influenced other fashion designers throughout his career.

He himself was working until the end; in 2017, Nicolas Ghesquiere enlisted him to create new graphics for a Louis Vuitton Cruise show in Kyoto. An antidote to the sombre wabi-sabi style we usually think of as ‘Japanese’, his colourful basara aesthetic epitomises the escapism of 70s glam rock. As Alex Fury noted in 2017 (pay wall), that style movement was a welcome distraction from economic strife and political unrest. I wonder if we might see elements of basara come through post-COVID-19…?

My friend Graham Cassie, of the vintage showroom Cassie Mercantile shared this great Kansai Yamamoto story on his Instagram today…

“I had the pleasure of meeting him about 15 years ago in Tokyo at an event given by United Arrows to promote our exhibition in their flagship store. A homage to the 1980’s Buffalo movement in London. Kansai said to me “this exhibition is amazing, you must visit me at my studio tomorrow.” The next day we were met at the studio door by two guys dressed in black polo necks and taken up to his studio which overlooked the Imperial Palace. We spent the rest of Sunday watching films of Kansai’s exhibitions and studying clothing he had made for John Lennon and David Bowie. The first concert I attended age 13 was David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust at the Greens Playhouse in Glasgow which made a huge impression on me, so the whole afternoon was surreal and very memorable.”

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGE: David Bowie with Kansai Yamamoto 1973
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

CLICK HERE to get Disneyrollergirl blog posts straight to your inbox once a week
CLICK HERE to buy my book The New Garconne: How to be a Modern Gentlewoman