Yohji Yamamoto’s declaration of “I hate fashion” perhaps seems counterintuitive for a designer of high acclaim. At the same time it is his long term involvement with the medium that grants him the ability to dole out such a statement. In a subsequent interview with Terry Jones Yamamoto elaborates on his hatred, stating “I hate fashion. Or the word fashion, which sounds colorful, extravagant, expensive and gorgeous.…I never wanted to walk the main street of fashion. I have been walking the sidewalks of fashion from the beginning, so I’m a bit dark.”
Yamamoto, then, explains that the fashion he hates is not the sphere of garments, but the system itself. Capital “F” Fashion if you will. In yet another interview, he reveals that this hatred almost caused him to quit. Yet, paradoxically, it was this same hatred that kept him going. Yamamoto relates, “About five or six years ago I felt strongly that my role was done. But nowadays, especially in Tokyo, New York and Los Angeles, everything is covered by fast fashion. Faster, faster, cheaper, cheaper. People have started wasting fashion. So suddenly, there was some space again for me to do something… So I said to myself: ‘Yohji, you can continue to do your job. Don’t change. You can just continue to do it.'”
Faustine Steinmetz cited Yamamoto’s hatred for fashion as important to the creative process. I feel that what both she and designers like Yamamoto are positing is that in order to create a meaningful proposition, one needs something to react against. Faustine related that her clothes are “not about the ‘girl’ or the ‘look,’ but about pieces you can keep forever.” Her passion for garments that transcend today’s obsession with “looks” is cemented by her obsession with collecting. It was this dissonance between her love for clothing and how the fashion world meaninglessly throws around garments that inspired her label. Faustine’s anger towards today’s quick, easy, surface-level, cheap, look-driven garments propels her towards the arduous and detail-oriented production process she structures her brand around. She related much about her struggles to keep her business afloat but stuck with the idea that one should “Never care too much about selling, it’s always more important to have a strong product.” “If you don’t hate fashion, you’re never going to change it” she insisted.
Faustine’s reactionary energy reminds me of another angry figure, the eternally scowling Kawakubo. Adrian Joffe relates that the transcendent Spring 1997 collection came from “Rei’s anger at seeing a Gap window filled with banal black clothes.” On this, Kawakubo comments, “I may have been especially angry at the time, but I’m more or less always angry anyway.” Here’s to hoping Faustine stays angry too.