Back in black: Yohji Yamamoto built his reputation in monochrome. And the latest collection from the Prince of Darkness is bolder - and blacker - than ever, says Susannah Frankel

In explanation of his current collection - the darkest, most voluminous and uncompromising for some time - the designer Yohji Yamamoto claims he is bored with 'pretty, pretty' fashion. Taking things one step further, he goes on to announce, with considerable pride, that he knows that not many people will like this particular mind-set but that he, for one, simply doesn't care.

This latest offering commemorates a quarter of a century showing on an international stage, after all - Yamamoto first arrived in the French fashion capital in 1981 and, though still based in Tokyo, has been unveiling his twice-yearly women's wear in Paris ever since. It is perhaps only apposite that the designer, something of an elder statesman, has gone back to his roots.

Larger-than-life-size trouser suits in bleached panne velvets; equally roomy jackets layered one over the other; coats, the arms of which are pinned to the sides; and acres of black gabardine - Mr Yamamoto's love affair with gabardine is well-known - is all about as far from obviously ingratiating as it is possible to imagine big-name designer fashion to be. It serves as nothing if not a reminder that when the designer first made a name for himself, those who wore his clothes were labelled 'the crows' - and that even in his native Japan.

The look photographed here is quintessential Yamamoto. It is black - with Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons, Yohji reinvented the inky hue as the colour to see and be seen wearing for the intelligent fashion-follower throughout the 1980s. It is far from body-conscious - the point where this designer is concerned has always been to envelop the female form in large expanses of fabric, creating an intimate dialogue between clothing and wearer, as opposed to exposing it for all to see.

Equally typical is the fact there is more going on at the back of the garment than at the front. It is part of the mythology that by now surrounds Yamamoto both that overt displays of female sexuality frighten him - he is 'scared', he says, for example, by short skirts and red lipstick - and that the woman of his dreams is one he is endlessly searching for and never quite catching up with. She is seen, therefore, more often than not, from behind. In this case, a pannier is created in gabardine (what else?), exaggerating the girth of the hips and highlighting the narrowness of the torso.

It almost goes without saying that this is not a silhouette that is commonly embraced on the catwalk, not least because the preoccupation with slenderness decrees that narrowness is aimed for at all costs. These trousers, conversely, are enormous - hugely comfortable, wide-legged and so long that they form puddles on the floor.

They would, of course, in more mainstream hands, be teamed with a pair of leg-lengthening high heels. Heaven forbid! Yamamoto's footwear is almost invariably flat (high heels are also scary) and masculine. Barbie and her ilk have no place in this world. This designer has worked with the masculine wardrobe since he started out, adapting it the better to suit his vision of femininity, and he is now doing so once again. Finally, the trousers are teamed with a black shirt with its roots similarly in the menswear tradition. It is entirely simple but impeccably proportioned. Nobody does these better.

For the past few years, Yamamoto's designs have perhaps seemed less radical than they had done in the early part of his career, more gentle and unashamedly feminine. Overblown bridal gowns, floor-length silk velvet coats with fur-lined hoods and circle skirts have all found their way into an oeuvre that was previously more austere. Not so this time round. It is nothing if not testimony to the impact Yamamoto has by now had on the world that this collection, though intended as aggressively anti-establishment, in fact chimes perfectly with the prevailing mood.

This decrees that every 'it' label from Chloe to Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton is offering up high-waisted trousers so wide that an entire size-zero celebrity, complete with hardware-laden oversized bag, could happily reside in one leg for a week. Masculine footwear, also, has never seemed so fashionable: Prada, Miu Miu, the Comme des Garcons protégé Junya Watanabe and more have come up with this in place of anything more high-heeled and strappy by nature.

Yamamoto's take on an oversized, masculine-inspired aesthetic is always the most poetic, however, and even meaningful. Perhaps that is because he is doing it to please nobody other than himself.

Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk