The reason we love Yohji Yamamoto is because his clothing is the voluptuous inspiration that changes a fitted blazer into a billowing top.

White collar becomes stylish in his designs because the Western suit is translated into a flounce of personal style that surpasses simply a fine suit lining.

Brando x Yohji Yamamoto

Yamamoto’s recipe is simple: combine one part classic tailoring with two parts creative extension.

Subtly obscure proportions peek from button closures, muscled shoulder widths to tapered waists and pants that fit the leg as a paper bag holds a loaf of bread. His training in Japan translates the namesake designer into a well-fitted Frenchman – fully fledged in fashion, clad in black-on-black and stuffed to the brim with quiet poise. His tailoring background is an extension of his mother’s influence and her small dressmaking shop in Shinjuku, Japan. Embracing this and the traditional tailoring he learned at fashion school at Bunka Fashion College, and through his maternal influences, Yamamoto an expert at his own interpretation of what is fashion.

The difference between the loosely passing dresswear of Yamamoto is that he curtails his designs with an edge of punk that can flatter a voluptuous, and jointly a slender frame. The designs are never oversized, rather they are fitted pieces of tailored dreams that fall from the realm of ideal to perfect imperfection. In this imperfect realm Yamamoto has made himself the prophet of the indifferent attitude that slyly thrives in fashion today. The je ne sais quoi so eloquently refreshed by Yamamoto makes the brand a classic – a status that will hold the brand at the frilled edges of high fashion for as long as he introduces the next collection.

Credit: Pelle Lannefors for V Magazine

So how does he do it?

Like any design, Yamamoto’s tricks aren’t anything new. He uses cinching, gathering, D rings and straps on flap back packs; angled hems on dresses and shawl collars on double breasted coats. It is his sugar glazed touch of style that make his clothing stand out from ordinary style of dress. How does twisting design techniques work for Yamamoto? Since his 1970s debut, he has stuck to his guns and made his clothes uniquely his own style without faltering.

“I think perfection is ugly. Somewhere in the things humans make, I want to see scars, failure, disorder, distortion.”

An inspiration to the modern individual, Yamamoto reaches the flitting edges of fashion whilst embracing those like me, who wish we could translate his knack for styling traditional clothes into our own wardrobe.  Since the inception of his 1981 collection in Paris, Yamamoto has been a subtle force that makes us want to scoop up his garments from the meticulously arranged racks of a YY store. He takes what is improper and makes it comfortable, and in this vein we find courage to dress ourselves how we feel we best fit our individual style.

Gabardine jackets by Yohji Yamamoto. Credit: corduphotography

To vamp your current closet into the Yamamoto essence, simply focus attention to details in design. Observe how traditional suits are styled, and warp these concepts to new levels with the same details into obscure places. Nothing is new in fashion, and the beauty in reviving old ideas with personal twists makes a garment into a statement. Drawing inspiration from inner spirit and from the existing fashion world around him makes Yamamoto a nebulous of reimagination.