An iconic Japanese fashion designer based in Tokyo and Paris. Considered a master tailor alongside those such as Madeleine Vionnet, he is known for his avant-garde tailoring featuring Japanese design aesthetics.
Born in Tokyo, Yamamoto graduated from Keio University with a degree in law in 1966. He gave up a prospective legal career to assist his mother in her dressmaking business, from where he learned his tailoring skills. He further studied fashion design at Bunka Fashion College, getting a degree in 1969.
Yamamoto debuted in Paris in 1981. In an interview with the New York Times in 1983, Yamamoto said of his designs, "'I think that my men's clothes look as good on women as my women's clothing. When I started designing, I wanted to make men's clothes for women.” More recently he has expounded: “When I started making clothes for my line Y’s in 1977, all I wanted was for women to wear men’s clothes. I jumped on the idea of designing coats for women. It meant something to me, the idea of a coat guarding and hiding a woman’s body. I wanted to protect the woman’s body from something – maybe from men’s eyes or a cold wind.”
Yamamoto is known for an avant-garde spirit in his clothing, frequently creating designs far removed from current trends. His signature oversized silhouettes often feature drapery in varying textures. His collections are predominately made in black, a color which Yamamoto has described as “modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy - but mysterious. But above all black says this: "I don’t bother you - don’t bother me.”