Tag Archives: Kansai Yamamoto

➤ Farewell Kansai the fashion genius who breathed the same colours as Bowie

Fashion, Japan, designer, stage costumes, Kansai Yamamoto, David Bowie,

Yamamoto’s second-best-ever tear-away garment, 1973: A white kimono-inspired floor-length cape, emblazoned with Japanese kanji letters spelling out “David Bowie” phonetically, but also translating to “One who spits out words in a fiery manner”. Bowie was the first Western artist to use a hikinuki quick costume-change by dramatically ripping off the cape to reveal his leotard beneath. (Photography Asahi Shimbun)

The Japanese fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto – known for styling David Bowie and creating some of Ziggy Stardust’s most flamboyant outfits – died last week of leukaemia aged 76. He went on to be a huge influence on a generation of younger talents from Jean Paul Gaultier to Hedi Slimane and also worked with Elton John and Stevie Wonder. Here are extracts from some tributes…

➢ Yamamoto obituary in The Times of London, 28 July 2020:

When Kansai Yamamoto first saw David Bowie descending to the stage on a disco ball, he felt a physical sensation that was like a “chemical reaction”. It was 1973. Because a friend had pleaded with him to stop what he was doing in Tokyo and come to New York, the Japanese designer had taken a 13-hour flight and then rushed from JFK airport to a front-row seat at Radio City Music Hall. When Yamamoto saw Bowie wearing one of his colourful outfits, he thought the long journey had been worth it.

He said: “He was wearing all black and then all of a sudden that disappeared and he was wearing full colour. It was very dramatic and the audience all rose to their feet, so there was a standing ovation right at the beginning. I found David’s aesthetic and interest in transcending gender boundaries shockingly beautiful. It felt like the beginning of a new age.” Yamamoto would go on to play a full part in ushering in this new age… / Continued at Times Online

Fashion, Japan, designer, stage costumes, Kansai Yamamoto, David Bowie

LEFT – A fitting for Bowie in Japan, 1973: The elaborate clash of prints on his asymmetric knitted leotard are derived from the tattoo patterns of yakuza (organised crime syndicates). Kansai Yamamoto himself sports a matching mock turtleneck. Plus doughnut rings for wrists and ankles. (Photography Tajima Kazunal) . . . RIGHT – Space Samurai for Bowie, 1973: The metallic-looking suit in padded satin evokes the split-skirt hakama worn by Japanese samurai as armour. Designed by Kansai Yamamoto for the Aladdin Sane tour. (Bowie Archive)

➢ From the fashion section of The New York Times, 27 July 2020:

Kansai Yamamoto, the unapologetically flamboyant fashion designer whose love of color, unfettered imagination and exploration of genderless dressing caught the eye of David Bowie and helped define the look of his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, died on July 21 in Japan.

Kansai, as Mr Yamamoto was generally known, was not as well known as some of his more high-profile Japanese fashion contemporaries, including Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. But it was Kansai who led the way for a generation of Japanese design talents to make their mark on the Western industry.

In 1971, he was among the first Japanese designers to show in London — a full decade before Ms Kawakubo and the other Mr Yamamoto. His signature aesthetic of sculptural shapes, clashing textures and prints, and eye-popping color combinations attracted industry attention.

Kansai’s debut collection was splashed across the cover of Harpers & Queen magazine with the tagline “Explosion from Tokyo” and his growing profile led to collaborations with the decade’s most important musician showmen, including Elton John and Stevie Wonder in addition to Mr Bowie, with whom he formed a longstanding creative relationship.

“Color is like the oxygen we are both breathing in the same space,” Kansai once said of his work with Mr Bowie… / Continued at NYT online

“When David wore my women’s clothes, people
were very surprised. My clothes were designed
to be worn by women. When I think of it,
it was a bizarre thing for him to do”
– Kansai Yamamoto

➢ From the fashion section of The Guardian, 27 July 2020:

Kansai Yamamoto was known for his singular aesthetic of bold, avant-garde designs, clashing colours and patterns that often incorporated elements from Japanese culture. His long-standing artistic partnership with Bowie would go on to inspire many younger fashion designers, including Jean Paul Gaultier, Hedi Slimane and Raf Simons, and became a major reference for modern gender-defying fashion.

Bowie was attracted to Yamamoto’s ability to design excessive, sculptural pieces which seemed unconstrained by the confines of gender. In turn, Yamamoto was impressed by Bowie’s ability to put this aesthetic in mainstream popular culture. It also helped that Bowie was slim enough to wear sample size. He said: “My clothes were normally made for professional models – this was the first time they had been used for an artist or singer”… / Continued at Guardian online

Fashion, Japan, designer, stage costumes, Kansai Yamamoto, David Bowie,

Yamamoto’s favourite creation for Bowie, 1973: The sculptural Tokyo Pop black vinyl jumpsuit with sequinned stripes and bowed legs is the best tear-away garment ever made. It was inspired by hikinuki, the quick-change technique for kabuki actors to be suddenly revealed wearing a different outfit – in Bowie’s case his flame-red skimpy Woodland Creatures jumpsuit on the Aladdin Sane tour. (Photography Masayoshi Sukita)

“Why was Andy Warhol obsessed with canned food?
Every artist has his own thing going on.
I often use Japanese motifs and sometimes wonder
if I’m choosing them because I’m Japanese”
– Kansai Yamamoto

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2013 ➤ Bowie is Go! Tasters for this week’s record-breaking V&A exhibition

+++V&A video trailer for the new exhibition, David Bowie is

➢ David Bowie is the enigmatic title of a retrospective exhibition of 300 possessions drawn from Bowie’s personal archive displayed at London’s Victoria & Albert museum, March 23–Aug 11. Appropriately, this week his first album in ten years, The Next Day, sits at No 1 in the Official UK Album Chart. It’s his ninth UK No 1 album (though spookily neither of his recent singles releases is anywhere near the singles chart). Before the V&A show launches, ticket sales exceed 42,000, more than double the advance sales of previous exhibitions at the museum. A few tickets are still available by booking online, in person in Kensington, or by phone +44 (0)20 7907 7073.

FROM THE BOWIE COMMENTARIAT

➢ David Bowie, the Return – Tony Parsons, Miranda Sawyer and La Roux’s Elly Jackson discuss Bowie’s music and influence for Radio 4’s Front Row (broadcast March 7, available on iPlayer for a year). Presenter John Wilson is guided through the V&A exhibits by the show’s curators Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh.

David Bowie, V&A exhibition, White Cloth Gallery, Leeds

Brian Duffy’s photography for the Lodger album sleeve 1979. © The Duffy Archive Limited

➢ The Duffy Collection of iconic Bowie images – which include three of his most famous album covers – goes on display May 2–June 4 at the White Cloth Gallery in Leeds LS1 4HT. The show documents Duffy’s special relationship with Bowie over ten years.

➢ A cryptic guide to the typography of Bowie – The V&A exhibition catalogue dissected by Gavin Lucas at Creative Review, 4 March 2013:

Jon Abbott at graphic design studio Barnbrook said of the book David Bowie Is: “We wanted to create an engaging pop-object for an audience who have come to expect the unconventional” … The book’s body typeface, Priori Serif, is one from Jonathan Barnbrook’s own foundry, Virus Fonts. Drawn by Jonathan Barnbrook and Marcus Leis Allion, the typeface was influenced by British typographers Gill and Johnston, and fittingly it found one of its first outings on the cover of Bowie’s 2002 album, Heathen … / Continued at Creative Review

Celia Philo,Brian Duffy,David Bowie, V&A exhibition,

One of the rejected cover shots for the Aladdin Sane album taken by photographer Brian Duffy in 1973. © The Duffy Archive Limited

➢ The day that lightning struck Aladdin – In 1973, Celia Philo directed the photo shoot for David Bowie’s album Aladdin Sane. The result was one of the most iconic images ever created. She talks to Stylist magazine, 2013:

Sometimes, when you’re doing something that you know is going to be good, it’s because it’s come from an extreme end of the spectrum of experience: either it’s incredibly hard work, or it comes together almost effortlessly. The photographic shoot for the cover of Aladdin Sane happened like magic. Its success was the result of a lucky collaboration of people … / Celia Philo, continued at Stylist

David Bowie, V&A exhibition,Lower Third,Swinging 60s,

Setting out as Swinging 60s Mod: Bowie promo shot in 1966 for his first single on Pye, Can’t Help Thinking About Me, with his band The Lower Third which included producer Tony Hatch on piano. The NME decided: “Absorbing melody, weakish tune”

➢ Iain R Webb: How David Bowie liberated my wardrobe – As a 14-year-old boy living in a West Country village, Webb, the former Blitz Kid and fashion editor and now RCA professor, thought David Bowie’s style statements were a gift. And so have generations of fashion designers. Read feature in The Independent, March 16, 2013:

Bowie’s influence on my life has been major, from the fundamental desire to never be labelled or pigeonholed to my profound love of glitter and penchant for a spikey haircut. And I am not alone … / Iain R Webb, continued at The Independent

➢ Glam! The Performance of Style (Feb 8–May 12) is a seriously well-curated multi-media show at Tate Liverpool surveying the 1971–75 phenomenon on both sides of the Atlantic, across the whole spectrum of painting, sculpture, installation art, film, photography and performance. The in-depth survey comes in two halves, drawing a clear distinction between the playful subversion of pop music and fashion that characterised the British glam wave, and the American, which was driven much more profoundly by gender politics. Well worth a daytrip to Liverpool.

➢ 1970, Where to draw a line between glitter and glam: naff blokes in Bacofoil versus starmen with pretensions — analysis by Shapersofthe80s.

➢ How Glam Changed Britain, by Gary Kemp – feature written by the Spandau Ballet songwriter for The Times, Jan 28, 2013.

♫ EXPLORING BOWIE’S MUSIC

David Bowie, V&A exhibition, ,Berlin,Tony Visconti, Hansa Studios

Berlin 1976: Bowie with moustache, Tony Visconti and assistant engineer, Edu Meyer, taken in the control room of Hansa Studios by Meyer’s wife, Barbara

♫ BBC Radio 6Music celebrates the life and work of David Bowie throughout Easter week, March 25–31. Gems from the archive feature concerts and interviews which have not been heard in 30 years.

♫ 2013, Shock and awe verdicts – Shapersofthe80s rounds up critical opinion on Bowie’s born-again single Where Are We Now? and the masterful new album The Next Day – “beautiful, obsessive and deliciously cruel”.

♫ News of special vinyl release at Bowie’s website – His second 2013 single, The Stars, is scheduled for a limited edition vinyl 7inch 45 Record Store Day release on April 20. Backed with Where Are We Now?


❏ Music video for the 1979 song DJ (above) sees Bowie sporting a pink onesie dungaree outfit designed by Willy Brown and walking through London streets being snogged by fans, both boys and girls.

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➤ Sukita-san’s eye view of the weird world according to Bowie

David Bowie, Masayoshi Sukita,Speed of Life, Genesis Publications,

Heroes-era Bowie in 1977 © by Masayoshi Sukita

David Bowie,Yamamoto Sukita, Kansai Yamamoto ,Speed of Life, Genesis Publications

Bowie as Ziggy in 1973 costumed by Kansai Yamamoto and photographed © by Masayoshi Sukita

❚ HERE WE SEE CLASSIC PIX of the early glam incarnations that broke the rules of rock and roll and put the gender-bending David Bowie into the headlines. Since 1972 Japanese photographer Masayoshi Sukita has gone on capturing the prolific flow of creations from the ever-inventive Bowie. This week in London his long-awaited book Speed of Life documenting their 40-year collaboration is launched by Genesis Publications in its 2,000-copy limited edition. Signed by both Bowie and Sukita, it is priced at £360 ($581) for 300 pages which they caption with their own recollections and memories. Bowie says: “It’s very hard for me to accept that Sukita-san has been snapping away at me since 1972 but that really is the case… May he click into eternity.”

Meanwhile in today’s Sunday Times Magazine art critic Waldemar Januszczak recalls his teenage outing in 5-inch platforms when he paid 90p on the door of Starkers in Boscombe, Dorset, to discover the eye-popping mystique of Ziggy Stardust in August 1972 — minutes after Sukita the photographer arrived in Britain and caught Bowie’s shock show at London’s Royal Festival Hall. He described it as “like an astronomer finding a new planet”.

David Bowie, Masayoshi Sukita,Speed of Life, Genesis Publications,

Today’s Sunday Times Magazine: Bowie in 1972 © by Masayoshi Sukita

Januszczak writes: “It was Andy Warhol who invented the immensely attractive cultural idea that anyone could be whoever they wanted to be. It became Bowie’s big idea as well. And the tour he set out on in 1972 featured his most determined efforts yet to become lots of people at once: Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Major Tom, The Man Who Saved the World. That was just the beginning. The bewildering multi-identitied career photographed for us so sympathtically by Sukita-san in Speed of Life features enough different David Bowies to constitute a football crowd…”

David Bowie, Masayoshi Sukita,Speed of Life, Genesis Publications,

Bowie in 1989 © by Masayoshi Sukita

Above images copyright Masayoshi Sukita, courtesy Genesis Publications

David Bowie, Masayoshi Sukita,Speed of Life, Genesis Publications,

Sukita then and now: left, with Bowie in the 70s

MAY 8: INVETERATE LIGGERS AT THE LONDON
BOOK LAUNCH PARTY

Paul Simper, Steve Norman, Bowie, Sukita, books, Speed of Life,Genesis Publications,Dover Street Arts Club,

Lads insane: The Spand sax-man also known as Spiny Norman ingratiates himself with Ballet biographer Paul “Scoop” Simper at tonight’s Speed of Life book launch. Spandau’s own official photo-book is promised for 2013 from Genesis Publications. Photograph by © Shapersofthe80s

➢ Condé Nast president Nick Coleridge tells book-launch party of his teen obsession with Bowie and his encounter with Angie — Evening Standard Diary, May 9

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