Monday, 9 March 2015

Clothing Chats: My Parisian Correspondent digs Yohji Yamamoto

Continuing this series of chatting recent shows with people outside the fashion world or target demographic, I go to Paris, during PFW, to my Parisian correspondent. Gaz (or Gary in France, as they find "Gaz" too funny) is one of my close circle of friends from a society we both ran in college. He currently lives and teaches in Paris and generally has the life and sends me photo responses of him in front of Notre Dame sometimes. Bastard.

Ah, no, he's actually the best - to be fair.

So much so, that he agreed to talk about clothes in detail with me for a few hours. Later on, we were joined by his lovely girlfriend Adele, meaning our analysis of the show had another set of eyes - someone used to reporting on fashion in detail, an uninitiated (but open-minded) Irish male and a Frenchwoman.

This is the conversation that ensued when we chatted about the Yohji Yamamoto AW15 show.

COLETTE (CF): First impressions?

GAZ (GL): I guess somewhere between a Goth, Amish and Marilyn Manson. I don't really know what to say here or how to describe fashion...

CF: Well, there's no right or wrong here. It's all about what you think. Do you know the brand at all, have you heard of it?

GL: No, I don't know it at all, actually. It's kind of between avant garde and something you could actually wear casually without it being passed off as a crazy costume.

CF: Yeah, em, it is a ready-to-wear collection so it is made to be worn in daily life. It's not haute couture -

< Skype cuts out >

CF: - Goddammit, internet!

< A few seconds go by >

CF: Hey.

GL: Hey. We're back. So, it's ready-to-wear. You can buy it in stores.

CF: Exactly. Right, let's check out another image.

GL: I like it, it's like an avant garde take on some older styles. Like I said about the first one, the top part is like Amish to me (mixed with the hair), but is combined in a cool almost Charlie Chaplin pants and shoe combo. Oooh, I like the sleeves too - a really interesting mix of what feels like three different styles. With an anime-style facial art.

CF: Cool. How about the next one?

GL: I really like this one, living in Paris, especially. It feels like a cross between a Western dress with a conservative Eastern-style one. The kinda half veil/burka mixed with the hat is to me, more artistic than "wearable", but I like the aesthetics of it. There is a real sense of elegance. I like how it hints at the human shape, without fully revealing it.

CF: It's cool that you picked up on other vibes too. I'm noting a bit of his Japanese heritage in the skirt and sandals.

GL: Ah, I can totally see that now - it's a nice mixture of styles and cultures.

CF: Neeexxxt.

GL: I think this dress is far more Western than the last one. The shape reminds me of some sort of medieval style, or from Game of Thrones but with the raised part at the bottom (A/N: i.e. hem), showing a nice modern twist with the sneakers.

CF: I'd say Renaissance but I see what you mean, a little Cersei, I think. You mentioned the play of reveal and cover. Don't you think with the amount of flesh covered, the little baring of the shoulders and neck by widening the neckline, is sexier/more sexualised than it would be if this was the neckline on a tee paired with jeans?

GL: Mmm, I'd back up to say Renaissance, my sense of historic eras is awful. I think the covering I've seen so far is far less sexualised that stuff you see on billboards. It feels far more artistic (perhaps the wrong word as art can be sexualised also), or perhaps is more focused on beauty rather than sexiness...

CF: What I mean to say is, I feel like sexy is a louder thing now (as you note with the billboards) but this expresses a play on the human body that has very much been lost. Where it's less about what is being shown off and more about the hinting of more?

GL: Ah, playing on the imagination rather than showing all?

CF: Exactly. From a time where people were a little more innocent (or meant to be) so even holding hands and looking at someone had people giggling. It's like these clothes reference a time before we were so desensitised.

GL: Ah yes, I would agree with that now, within the context. I almost feel like this is further expressed with the interesting facial art - taking the attention to the face also.

CF: Oh, interesting. I didn't even consider that! Right, let's skip to look 7. And maybe consider it with 8.



GL: I'm going back to the word elegant with 7 and 8. I really like them, in fact. Both kinda hint at her body's shape, though hide it's size above the shins. The ankle being shown is actually beautiful, it feels like it supports the rest of the ensemble, as it really highlights that the feet are supporting the body. Again, I love the combination of the cultural styles of Japan with the West (the Western hat in both cases).

CF: You mentioned Chaplin earlier. are you getting the nod to the mid 20th century and menswear a bit again?

GL: Ah, with the headgear this time - yes, I see it now. I really love image 8, the slight touches of red seem to act as a seductive factor also.

CF: It's kinda like a geisha mixed with a mobster...

GL: Mmm, I do feel like she could kill me - in the coolest of ninja/mobster fashions..

CF: And then 9 is a bit of a departure...


GL: Yeah, somewhat. The hat reminds me of a chimney sweep and the dress of Ursula from The Little Mermaid. I feel it lacks elegance, actually. It's big, cumbersome and hides all of the body's shape. Not really a fan of this one. The upper body robes also seem to remind me of some sort of clergy.

CF: Probably difficult to move in too. It's kinda like another way women have been covered and controlled over history, skirts and hoops in the 17th to 19th centuries impeded movement, A way to be controlled. Or restricted.

GL: Mmm, I can imagine it's quite easy to "drive" a persons movements while in that dress. I can see that now.

<  Adele (AH) joins the conversation >

CF: Whenever you're ready, I'd like to hear your thoughts on 10-14 as they kinda represent another section of the collection that's similar in vein.


GL: Well, for me, it's like a combination of Western and Asian (Japanese?) fashion. More skin is revealed in this one, from the Western suit jacket of the upper body...would you say it's more "risqué" than the other ones?

CF: Yeah. It's interesting as well that the pieces inspired by men's tailoring are the more risqué. Like, there's more freedom there?

GL: 13 and 14 aren't so much revealing, but feel...I dunno, sloppier.

AH: There's nothing particularly feminine about 13.

CF: I see what you guys mean. It's more casual as well...very much like a young dude walking around with hands in pockets.

AH: Maybe more androgynous.

CF: Ah, I get that. There's a lot of playing with gender in his clothes in general.

GL: 14 = Johnny Depp.

CF: Heh.


GL: 18 feels completely different - the trousers mixed with the long Asian robe is a mix of masculine and feminine to me.

CF: The pose is interesting too, no?

GL: I can't decide if it's a power pose or submission pose, in fact.

AH: The sums of the outfit are masculine but together are feminine.

CF: Perhaps because of the pose?

GL: Mmm, it's really feminine, I'm thinking Mulan, the matchmaker song.

CF: Yeah, very elegant. Huge nod to Asian culture. How about 23-32?


GL: 23 feels sharp and aggressive. I imagine it's harking back to the times of oppressive fashion upon women.

CF: Same as the hoops earlier?

GL: Exactly.

GL: So, from there on, we see Eastern and African influences, And towards the end, ancient Greek/Roman fashion.

AH: I see late 40/50s fashion in 32.


GL: They've taken different styles and periods and put them in new contexts.



GL: Wow, I like these ones a lot. The military theme is evident in all, but mixing the cultural contexts, like Japanese, Roman (39), old school Roman with 40 (REALLY powerful pose in this one)
The theme seems to suggest power.

CF: And reference the 40s again.,,

GL: Yea, military fashion from different eras. 40 really is fascinating though. I can't put my finger on what makes it so powerful...the long sleeves seem to remind me of birds of prey..and just power.

CF: And it is the last look, the last statement of the collection.

GL: The pose is somewhat assured in their own power.

CF: So this look makes you see it definitively as a pose of power rather than submissiveness?

GL:'s the sleeves combined with the stern look that makes me feel this way. I can imagine Maleficent from Disney striking that pose.

CF: Cool. So what do both of you guys take from the collection overall?

GL: Lots of mixing of not only cultures, but eras and masculine and feminine fashions. Lots of play on power - especially of hiding most of the body and revealing a little.

AH: I like the evolution of the collection - how they're all different but are going in the same direction. Like you can tell he did all of this consciously and he had a strong vision.

CF: And as a chic Frenchwoman, what do you make of it as wearable clothes? Is it something you or people you know would wear? (obvs styled less dramatically)

AH: Some of them - definitely less dramatically. We can both totally see the Johnny Depp one.

GL: I think some of the early ones, and from 24-32 are quite wearable, in a less dramatic way perhaps, but even sometimes as they are.

CF: Thanks for chatting with me, guys! It was really interesting!


What I found interesting was how much they both picked up from the collection that I would have discussed in a typical show review. Which goes to show that fashion is not as inaccessible as people might think and also how rewarding a closer look at things really is!

They also pointed out things I hadn't thought of which underlines how useful discussion and debate really is. Particularly in areas like fashion that can be so isolated from the rest of world and outside points of view.

Less comical than the Marc Jacobs piece with my bro but no less interesting! I must thank them both for lending me their eyes and ears. 

Peace out. 

(Images via

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