Fashion Influencer: Celebrating the work of Kansaï Yamamoto


At the weekend Louis Vuitton presented its 2018 cruise/resort collection by Nicolas Ghesquiere, to rave reviews. For those following along on social media, you will have seen the close ups of the brand’s accessories. This season the luxury fashion house created a line of bags in celebration of iconic designer Kansaï Yamamoto.

WGSN has tracked the fashion impact of Kansaï Yamamoto, who was the first Japanese fashion designer to hold a show in London back in 1971. Yamamoto is famous for his showmanship and has been making waves since 1970s. He has always pushed the boundaries of the traditional catwalk show with past productions featuring outlandish casts and bold stage sets. He is an inspiration in his positive outlook and continuous energy, which is as much reflected in his shows as it is in the collections he designs.

His influence is never far from the catwalk and pop-culture, as referenced below:

2017 – Louis Vuitton SS18 cruise show 

Louis Vuitton speedy bag – a tribute to Kansai Yamamoto

Striking patterned jacquards – best exemplified in the rock-star wardrobe genre by Kansai Yamamoto’s groundbreaking designs for David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust era – are infiltrating contemporary menswear, with bold mosaiccolor-blocked and blanket-stripe patterns emerging for S/S 14.

The singer-designer duo’s legendary collaborations were featured in the seminal 2013 exhibit David Bowie Is at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.


As well as an outstanding musician and performer, Bowie was a huge influence on fashion, with the V&A exhibition featuring some of the most memorable stage looks. Channeling an androgynous and avant-garde persona, on display are outfits including Kansai Yamamoto’s Rites of Spring jumpsuit which was made for the 1973 Aladdin Sane Tour, as well as the Pierrot costume, designed by Natasha Korniloff featured on the cover for Scary Monsters…(and Super Creeps) (1980).



Bold intarsias re-emerged on runways and streets as 70s and 80s knitwear influences fashion. Though intarsia techniques have existed for centuries, it was knitwear wunderkind Schiaparelli in the 20s, and later Kansai Yamamoto, Zandra Rhodes, and Stephen Burrows in the 70s-80s who traded in traditional argyle intarsias for trompe l’oeil motifs and wildly creative patterns. Designers introduced abstract geometric motifs and figurative styles for F/W 11 and S/S 12, and adventurous intarsias are cropping up on streets around the globe


Ashish 2009/10

Throughout the 80s iconic design houses such as Kenzo, Krizia and Kansai Yamamoto helped define the decade with their ostentatious knitwear emblazoned with bold and often brash animal motifs. The appeal of witty knitwear quickly reached craft circles, who have adopted intarsia techniques to incorporate a large range of animal figures onto their hand-knitted jumpers. The trend later trickled down into childrenswear where it remained relegated for the early part of the 90s.
For 2009/10 designers (a new generation of knit wunderkinds) took a walk on the wild side for autumn/winter with a crop of novelty animal-inspired knitwear. Humorous, quirky and unashamedly flamboyant, animal knits provided the perfect injection of light-hearted edge to winter wardrobes.

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