Who is Kansai Yamamoto? A Brief History

On the heels of a new collaboration with Louis Vuitton, we dive into the iconic Japanese designer's colorful past 

Often heralded as one of the founding fathers of Japanese contemporary fashion, Kansai Yamamoto has left a long-lasting—and colorful—imprint on the industry. After making his debut in London in 1971, Yamamoto, who cut his teeth apprenticing for Japanese designers like Junko Kushino and Hisashi Hosono after graduating from the prestigious Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo, caught the eye of David Bowie, who would go on to wear his androgynous, space-age looks during his Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane tours in the ’70s and ’80s. (Elton John, Michael Jackson, and John Lennon were also fans.) Yamamoto’s “Super Shows” became must-see theatrical events around the world, blending music, dancing, and fashion on a large-scale. “After my shows, people feel happy,” he once told Dazed“And that is my dream.” After a nearly four-year hiatus (his 2013 catwalk show in London at the Victoria and Albert Museum capped off another hiatus, that one having lasted 20 years) Yamamoto returned to the limelight this past Sunday, sitting front row at Louis Vuitton’s Cruise 2018 show at the Miho Museum just outside of Kyoto. For the collection, Nicolas Ghesquière tapped the legend to design traditional Kabuki prints and colorful Japanese illustrations. Here, we offer up a brief history of the illustrious designer.

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