Yohji Yamamoto's confession “for my total life, I am comfortable being in black, not in the light" opens Theo Stanley's intimate documentary film, 'This Is My Dream'. Throughout its enthralling thirty minute running time, notoriously private Japanese fashion design icon Yamamoto allows Stanley to shine a light on his life and creative process. The film tracks Yamamoto and the global team working on the S/S10 Y-3 collection for a short period of time during the Summer and early Autumn of 2009 Tokyo to New York.
His artistic motivations, his love of music, and his aesthetic vision are all explored against the backdrop of the S/S10 collection. The viewer enters this world as an outsider but leave with images and words that grant them with an intimate glimpse to this intriguing man's interior. To mark the release of the DVD, we caught with the film's director Theo Stanley to talk about the project...
Dazed Digital: ‘This is My dream’ marks your debut as a documentary film director, how did you first become involved in the project?
Theo Stanley: I was contacted by a bright light and creative producer for adidas, Chrissa Theodore, who had me in mind for the project. We had collaborated on several conceptual adidas short films for Y-3 and SLVR lines, and I suppose the opportunity emerged from this good work together. Initially the project had a shorter length in mind and was intended for web use, but as we moved through our windows of production and captured great content, it became clear that we had a larger opportunity on hand and continued to evolve our approach and aims.
DD: What was your starting point?
Theo Stanley: The last significant portrait of Yohji was the Wim Wenders film "Cities and Notebooks" in 1989, which was a fascinating film and portrait of Yohji as a young man in an emerging career, and now here we are twenty years later in his process, which gave an opportunity to survey and assess the ground travelled, and make a film that did not walk on the same ground.
Although the Y-3 collection and show provided us a structural backdrop to approach the film, I wanted to develop this with an inside-out type of perspective, an approach that would engage the designer at a conceptual level, and which would open up the self-constructed world in which he operates and creates. We could use this context to provide launching points into his background, artistic development, and conceptual aims.
DD: How was it being invited in to this ordered chaos that surrounds the creation of a collection?
Theo Stanley: There is a severity and beauty to Yohji's world in particular within this larger fashion machine, and I wanted our film to read as a studied visual poetic within Yohji's headspace. The photography should have patience and mental rigor, with focused visual observations of the environment, materials and work rituals, and a perspective that reduces all the chaos around to a more pure structure, like Yohji's vision.
DD: Yohji Yamamoto is a notoriously a private man yet the viewer is treated to a number of rather intimate moments. How difficult a process was it to capture the intimate moments we see?
Theo Stanley: I think we created an environment and intellectual space where many things could happen, and with a careful conversation guided it in smaller and smaller circles towards an interior. This could have gone a few ways, and ultimately I feel it was also Yohji's gift to the project, and a sign to me that he took the film seriously, and was stepping forward and opening up, and at some risk, to make something special and enduring.
DD: The documentary coincides with the tenth anniversary of the Yamamoto and Adidas collaboration. As an outsider, how did your opinion of the collaboration change over the course of filming?
Theo Stanley: I would say that my viewpoint changed in understanding the full scope of work and concentration that happens with a collection such as Y-3, or any of Yohji's lines. This creativity, discontent, humility, and pushing forward is at the center of his artistic spirit. Our climax at the end of the collection, and true to Yohji, was a conscious denial of the adulation and success, and a re-clearing of the mind to create the space for the next motivation.
DD: Finally, what's next for Theo Stanley?
Theo Stanley: I have been working to finish two ongoing narrative projects, the first being a feature titled ISTHMUS (about six years in the making as production has happened in waves) and a thirty minute short entitled HIEROPHANT, which we have just completed. The films are co-directed along with artists Lionel Maunz and Brian T Scott, involving a core team we have been developing throughout recent projects. We are currently submitting to fall festivals and mastering the project.
The This Is My Dream DVD is now on sale at Y-3 store, 54 Conduit Street, London W1S 2YY, 020 7434 2324