I grew up after the second world war, the only son of a war widow. This pushed me to see society through my mother’s eyes. I believe that seeing the world through a woman’s eyes was my destiny and enabled me to do what I do.
I think I am the only male designer who really likes women. You disagree? Tell me the name of another.
I only noticed I was Japanese when I came to Paris for the first time in 1981. Before that I did not know what it was to be different.
I nearly became a lawyer but I decided I really wanted to help my mother with her dressmaking business. My mother reacted angrily when I told her. She said: “If you really want to help me, you must go to dressmaking school.” And so I did.
I always say I am a dressmaker, not a fashion designer. For a long time I sought a suitable title for myself and I ended up with the most simple description: I make dresses.
I say I hate fashion but in fact I have always been fascinated by the relationship between Japanese ritual and Western couture.
I most admire Madame Grès, Chanel, Vionnet, Schiaparelli for their technique—technique is, after all, international. But I admire Chanel because she experimented with almost everything, both with her clothes and her fragrances.
The most important thing for both women and men, in terms of dressing, is to look sexy. Color is an issue for me. I use a lot of black and often I forget to use color. And when I do use it, I have to use something strong—stronger than black even—and so I might use a white or a beautiful, fragile red.
I love women and I love the way clothes are both functional and beautiful on their bodies. This is what inspires me. But the clothes must work and, in the beginning at least, they took their inspiration from the kind of uniform of male dressing. The challenge is to make the clothing and the wearer beautiful.
I have never walked the main road in fashion. When I first showed in Paris, my clothes were in such radical contrast to everything else that was out there that my office elevator was broken by the stampede of buyers who came to look and buy post show.
My advice to anyone who wants to dress well is to copy what you love and in the end you will be yourself.
I hate shopping and I am very lazy in the way I dress. I have five pairs of exactly the same pants and shirts. I wear them always, but I do change my underwear daily! I have always been envious of women and the way they have so many options.
When I created my fragrances, I wanted to evoke the fragrances of Japan, which are weaker than in the West. Even the flowers smell more subtle.
A woman should smell gentle. It’s kind of the smell of skin, fabric softener and shampoo.
I am not an expert on men’s fragrances because I have never been in love with a man. This makes a big difference!
The favorite things in my life are spending time with my dog Rin, and English tea.
+sentences: —Edited from an interview by Tina Gaudoin
Daily Motivation ||ONCE AGAIN|| SHOWstudio: In Conversation with Yohji Yamamoto #simplygenius #mentor
Cui Fei/ Read By Touch/ 2005-2006
I won’t complain at all. RAIN, please. #nomoresunshine #weneedit #weloveit
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