There was a curious front row guest at today’s Louis Vuitton 2018 Cruise show at the Miho Museum just outside Kyoto.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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