An experimental attitude toward construction and an avoidance of conventional forms of decoration place Yohji Yamamoto among the world's most innovative fashion designers. Plain fabrics devoid of printing or embroidery, and sombre colours emphasise the sculptural quality of his clothes. Born in 1943, Yamamoto used a mixture of both Western and Japanese techniques of cut to stun the fashion press when he presented his first collection to a Western audience in 1981, and his mature designs have increased in popularity ever since, creating a business empire of the first order.
Yamamoto exhibits his early avant-garde style in this black wool tailcoat. Intended to be worn open, the coat plays with the traditional notion of a man's tailcoat, a garment with a very long history (see plate below) and creating a stylish woman's garment instead. Exaggerated shawl-revers, boxy shoulders and extra volume in the upper back all give an unexpected unisex take on the standard black coat.
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