Designer: Yohji Yamamoto (Japanese, born Yokohama, 1943)
Date: early 1990s
Medium: wool, brass, acrylic
Credit Line: Gift of Minori Shironishi, 2003
Accession Number: 2003.573.2
Yamamoto enjoys inserting adjustable straps into the sleeves, neckline, and even body of many of his garments. Often placed conveniently to draw in expanses of widely cut fabric, these straps manipulate the dimensionality of the piece and reference early methods of clothes binding. This coat, with its demure turned-down collar and large circular cut, recalls the simple shapes of 1960s Western-tailored garments. The inherently graceful shape is offset by buckled straps at wrist and collar, themselves comparable to the bodice or jodhpur closures in historic sport or traveling costume.
Yamamoto enlivens the black canvas of this somber black felted wool with reflective brass rectangles and abstract strokes of gilded paint. Though ornamentation of the collar and center front bodice is traditionally found in the brocaded silks of the Japanese kimono and its obi and the silk floss embroidery of various Chinese cheongsam designs, Yamamoto here seems to be referencing ideologies of twentieth-century Western art. The broken application of these gilded shapes creates a Cubist planar composition, which, conflated with the modular shape, fosters a succinct aesthetic. The addition of bas-relief brass plates juxtaposed with flat paint provides a Surrealist element, enhanced by a morbid cracked-mirror allusion used repeatedly by Salvador Dalí and manipulated by Elsa Schiaparelli in a late 1930s evening jacket design.