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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Curating Yamamoto: An interview with Ligaya Salazar, the V&A’s Yohji Yamamoto exhibition curator

Curator of the V&A's Yohji Yamamoto retrospective Ligaya Salazar speaks exclusively to Natascha Nanji about her selection process, the themes she's chosen and all about the legendary designer himself…

Written by Natascha Nanji


Illustration by Jo Cheung

So after a rollercoaster six days, website online Menswear Day and London Fashion Week drew to a close with hip-store Kokon To Zai’s label, this web dosage KTZ, viagra and what would be my final show of this season. I absolutely loved what they did last season, and I couldn’t wait to see what they’d come up with next.


All photography by Matt Bramford

A heavily policed front row meant me and illustrator Gareth took seats on the second, but I managed to get on the end so that my pictures would make it look like I was Frowing all along. I was bloody exhausted and feeling very sorry for myself, and I couldn’t help but wish that they’d just get on with it and stop papping people wearing pig masks. My legs wobbled and I struggled to keep my eyes open, but when the music started and the first look appeared, I quickly forgot my woes.


Illustration by June Chanpoomidole


Illustration by Thomas Leadbetter

Memphis-inspired fashion? I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. A pumpin’ soundtrack blasted from the PA system as gorgeous models (more women than men, but who cares?) sashayed up and down the length of the BFC tent. Stripes were a plenty on figure-hugging dresses with sweetheart necklines that feature extra flaps in that Pop Art/Memphis splatter pattern. Vibrant primary colours made black dresses playful: such a sophisticated, considered collection expertly styled by wonder-styilst Anna Trevelyan.

A whole load of other influences filtered into this power collection – the womenswear referenced power dressing from the 1980s (think Dynasty) and Mondrian’s prints; the menswear also digging up the eighties with (faux!) fur lapels and broad shoulders.


Illustration by Abby Wright

I have to admit, I did prefer the womenswear – it was far more wearable for fashion-forward ladies and it oozed sex appeal with dresses cut above the knee and details in all the right places to emphasise the curves. The menswear featured striped balaclavas topped with pom-poms, acrylic brooches which referenced the womenswear, over-sized imposing puffa jackets and graphic-print trousers. But it’ll be the womenswear that cements Kokontozai’s place as one of London’s hottest design duos.


Illustration by Lesley Barnes

Huge orb-like creations were worn on wrists, picking out patterns from lapels. And, oh, the cuts! Dynamic pieces of fabric were layered onto classic tailored pieces to give them a seriously sexy aesthetic. This was a collection that was playful but sophisticated at the same – a really difficult challenge to pull off.


Illustration by Valerie Pezeron

I loved EVERYTHING about it. I can’t put it into words, so just have a look at the pictures. Oh, and read Amelia’s more comprehensive and articulate review here!

You can see more from Jo Cheung, June Chanpoomidole, Abby Wright and Lesley Barnes in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration!



Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

This spring, visit this the V&A presents a unique exhibition dedicated to the Grand Master Japanese couturier, Yohji Yamamoto. The exhibition will celebrate his life and work, and is the first of its kind in the UK. 30 years after Yamamoto debuted in Paris, the V&A has brought together rare examples of his visionary designs.

Watch the video for an exclusive interview with the exhibition’s curator, Ligaya Salazar. You can also read some of Salazar’s thoughts below, too.

On process
With this project I started roughly two and a half years ago to work on the idea and the concept behind the exhibition, it’s also a very particular project because you are working with a living designer who you are doing a single retrospective with, working with their team very closely, so in terms of curating, there is much more of a dialogue there than you would probably normally have with a slightly more thematic show.

The focus was more on to find a concept that would work for him, as a designer, because Yohji Yamamoto is very special in the deign world in terms of the way he approaches designing, so the way you want to show his work should be quite different as well… I spent more time looking at ways of displaying his work, ways of showing his work…

On garment selection
I had the incredible honour to be able to go into both his Paris and his Tokyo archives; the Tokyo archives no curator had ever been to and I had all of his archive to look at and to choose from, which made the editing process incredibly hard. It is something you spend a long time doing, talking to Yohji’s team, talking to the designer, making sure you have covered the iconic parts of his career, but also choosing pieces that are most emblematic of the themes that you want to bring out. I stated with an object list that was about six hundred pieces, and that was already a selection of the pieces I saw in the archive and then I had to bring it down to ninety; it was a long and arduous process.

On themes
Because it is an installation based exhibition, there isn’t a prescriptive story to tell, or a chronology, it was much more about how people would encounter the garments. For the first time what we are doing is to show everything on open display, on the same height as the viewer, so you are meeting your other, rather than looking up and behind glass. It’s a very different experience of the clothes.

Yohi Yamamoto is at the V&A and at The Wapping Project until 10th July 2011. Look out for a full review coming soon!

See more from Natascha Nanji here.

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