Louis Vuitton presented their new 2018 collection today in Japan at the Miho Museum just outside Kyoto. The entire collection reminded me of the early 80’s with the whole rock inspired broad shoulders and sequin designed vests and jackets. The person who actually did the collaboration on the collection was a very well known designer in the 80’s who designed for a lot of rock artists.
The designer behind the collaboration is Kansai Yamamoto and he is a fashion icon. The designer served as both muse and collaborator for Nicolas Ghesquière’s latest outing at Vuitton, creating classic Japanese art and Kabuki-inspired patterns and prints for the Cruise collection. Yamamoto was a pioneer in Japanese fashion design and gained worldwide fame after taking his wares outside of his home country to London and Paris and later, dressing a legendary music star in looks that would become synonymous with his stage presence and offbeat sartorial allure. Yamamoto turned fashion shows into large-scale spectaculars and spun intricate costumes out of classic kimonos and samurai pants.
Kansai Yamamoto’s career as a designer really took off in the early 1970s but he wasn’t always interested in fashion. Before graduating from the Bunka Fashion College in 1967, Yamamoto studied English and civil engineering at Nippon University in Tokyo. A predecessor of designers like Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Kenzo Takada, and Rei Kawakubo, Kansai Yamamoto was the first Japanese designer to show in London in 1971. He eventually showed in Paris in 1975.
Yamamoto is most widely known for his costume work with music icon David Bowie. Among the most famous looks were those worn by the singer during his Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane tours, including wildly printed kimonos and space-age-inspired jumpsuits. The two eventually became very close friends and Yamamoto once remarked, “there’s this aura of fantasy that surrounds him. He has flair.” Yamamoto’s colorful, avant-garde work is inspired by the Momoyama period of Japanese art (1573–1615), as well as traditional Kabuki theater costume and classic manga illustrations, some of which could be seen in the prints and mask motifs at today’s Vuitton show. In the ’90s, the designer began staging what he called “Super Shows.” His first over-the-top, gigantic fashion show was held in Moscow’s Red Square in 1993 while subsequent collections were shown in places like India and Vietnam. Yamamoto was one of the original imaginative showmen of fashion—another thing he and Ghesquière have in common.
Another aspect to the collection was the makeup. For me the makeup is what tied the entire collection to the whole 80’s rock theme they were going for. Though hair was generally worn mussed, tossed, and romantic—all flyaways welcome—the look’s power was found with samurai-inspired brows framing extreme cat-eyes that winged dramatically from outer corners, courtesy of makeup artist Pat McGrath. Kabuki allusions came with vivid pigments airbrushed around eyes and cheekbones, edged in contrasting tones.
The Vuitton show was set in the middle of nature with beautiful views all around. This year, Louis Vuitton set its sights on Kyoto, Japan for its Resort destination show, choosing the Miho Museum for the site of its spectacular presentation. There, models crossed a suspension bridge wearing Nicolas Ghesquière’s latest in leopard spots, studded leathers, and sequin-adorned sheer fabrics. While you wait for Nicole Phelps’s review, get the shorthand version of LV’s Resort 2018 collection here.
The location of the show set the tone and had a calming and relaxing environment that was very peaceful. Louis Vuitton always impresses me with their locations and I’m extatic to see where their next show will be.