The V&A's latest exhibition, a retrospective celebrating the life and work of Yohji Yamamoto, not only showcases the all-important clothes but also the groundbreaking catalogues created by art director Marc Ascoli, photographer Nick Knight and
The V&A's latest exhibition, a retrospective celebrating the life and work of Yohji Yamamoto, not only showcases the all-important clothes but also the groundbreaking catalogues created by art director Marc Ascoli, photographer Nick Knight and graphic designer Peter Saville. The exhibition, taking place 30 years after the designer's debut in Paris, was also the perfect opportunity to bring together the three creatives to reflect on one of the most defining moments in the history of fashion image-making.
AnOther's exclusive clip from the conversation, focuses on their first menswear and womenswear catalogues published in 1986. Executed entirely in black in and white, save for the red on the now-iconic red bustle image. Beautiful in its graphic simplicity, this is an image remarkably free from pre or post-production.
The full interview, available to view on SHOWstudio and V&A, charts the trio's tenure at Yohji, from initial meetings, their creative processes and their aesthetic ambitions. In the mid 80s, Marc Ascoli had already been working with Yohji for six seasons. Nick Knight had just graduated from college and finished his Skinheads book and had started moving towards fashion projects. He approached Peter to design a business card for him and ended up introducing him to Marc to discuss working on commercial catalogues for Yohji. For Nick and Peter (who was one of the founders of Factory Records), this was their first major fashion project. The year they started working on the first catalogue, 1985, is now referred to by Saville as 'Year Zero' – the beginning of a totally new relationship with fashion and a defining moment in which he started to only consider things that were absolutely necessary. A philosophy which is clearly reflected in their catalogues and perfectly in tune with Yohji's design aesthetic.
The catalogues, are remarkable – not just for the innovative images they contain (Susie Smoking, and Naomi Campbell balancing an apple between her knees – they're all here), but as objet d'art. Whereas they are now standard marketing material for design houses, in the 80s they were virtually unheard of and were only ever produced in very small runs. These catalogues document one of the most important collaborations in fashion history.
A full transcript of the 'Year Zero' interview is published in 'Yohji Yamamoto' edited by Ligaya Salazar (V&A Publishing, £35). A retrospective exhibition celebrating the work of Yohji Yamamoto is at the V&A until 10 July, 2011.
Text by Laura Bradley