What Yohji Yamamoto did when he got bored with fashion

In an exclusive film created around his AW16 Y-3 show, the legendary designer discusses his love of extremes and how a new direction revived his passion for design

“I was tired of making fancy clothing,” admits the 72-year-old Yohji Yamamoto in new short doc Master of the Shadows. Filmed around Y-3’s AW16 show, the designer is reflecting on his thirteen-year collaboration with adidas and how it revived his love of design at a time he was falling out of love with fashion.

“Around fifteen years ago, I felt that I had come too far from the street,” he says. “I was almost losing my enthusiasm for making clothing.” Luckily, that interest was rekindled when he noticed that, in cities he visited around the world, there was a growing interest in running – he decided it was “time to care for the body” and picked up the phone to the sportswear giants to propose a collaboration. By applying the monochromatic Yamamoto palette and to fluid, breathable deconstructed and reconstructed take on sportswear, together they built Y-3 into a global phenomenon.

Master of the Shadows reflects Yamamoto’s binary characteristics – a darkness and growing interest in his own mortality versus his interest in the life of the street. He spends a most of the film smoking, while reimagining sportswear – an irony he notes with a quiet smirk. 

Unlike Wim Wenders’ film from 1989 about the designer, which, in grainy colour, features him playing pool and hanging out, this dwells on Yamamoto’s own preoccupation with age and time and relentless dedication to his work – as he says, “maybe I will not retire in this life.”

Watch the film exclusively above.