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David Bowie in Kansai Yamamoto
David Bowie in Kansai YamamotoPhotography Masayoshi Sukita

Bowie’s favourite designer speaks about their relationship

“Some sort of chemical reaction took place: my clothes became part of David, his songs and his music”

Designer and long time collaborator of David Bowie, Kansai Yamamoto has opened up about his relationship with the late artist.

The first Japanese designer to show in London, Yamamoto was responsible for many of Bowie’s most iconic outfits during his Ziggy Stardust faze, including all the costumes for his 1973 Aladdin Sane tour.

While his designs undeniably helped Bowie cement his reputation as a forethinker in terms of androgyny and defying gender norms, Yamamoto tells The Hollywood Reporter that at first people weren’t so receptive to Bowie’s refusal to acknowledge the gender binary in fashion. “When David wore my women's clothes, people were very surprised. My clothes were designed to be worn by women. When I think of it, it was a bizarre thing for him to do.”

Further speaking of their close, continued collaboration, Yamamoto says their relationship was one built on mutual admiration. After being introduced through a mutual stylist friend, Bowie already owned items by the designer purchased from a shop on the Kings Road, and that without him, “my jumpsuits would still be sleeping at the corner of my little room in Tokyo I had at the time.”

Of their subsequent work together, Yamamoto says, “some sort of chemical reaction took place: My clothes became part of David, his songs and his music. They became part of the message he delivered to the world.”