The Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto passed away at 76 years old. After being diagnosed with leukaemia in March, unfortunately, he wasn’t able to fight against it. Yamamoto’s daughter Mirai confirmed his death via Instagram on Monday, and said that her father “left this world peacefully, surrounded by loved ones.”
‘”In my eyes, my father was not only the eclectic and energetic soul that the world knew him as but someone who was also thoughtful, kind-hearted and affectionate,” she wrote in the statement. The designer, consider a pioneer of Japenese fashion, became known thanks to his collaboration with David Bowie, for which he created some of his most iconic outfits as Ziggy Stardust. Colourful, sparkly, bold prints and complicated embroideries were the key elements of his style, futuristic and genderless.
Born in 1944, in Yokohama (Japan), Yamamoto studied civil engineering before turning his attention to fashion. He started as a self-taught and started practising in the ateliers of Junko Koshino and Hisashi Hosono. By the early 1970s, he had become the first Japanese designer to hold a show in London, an opportunity that earned him international acclaim for his theatrical creations. That’s when David Bowie contacted him to create the outfits for his alter-ego Ziggy Stardust, Yamamoto went on to produce various stage outfits for Bowie, from androgynous jumpsuits and bodysuits to cloaks and wide-bottomed pants. He designed costumes for the singer’s 1973 “Aladdin Sane” tour, which accompanied the iconic album of the same name.
Many are the designers inspired by Kansai over the years, from Riccardo Tisci to Alessandro Michele and Nicolas Ghesquière, with which Yamamoto collaborated for a Louis Vuitton collection inspired by traditional samurai. In the 90s, the designer took a break from the fashion system and started producing events and live performances called Super Show, in which he mixes music, dance, acrobatics and traditional Japanese culture. He won the Tokyo Fashion Editors prize, had many exhibitions dedicated to him and designed the Skyliner train. Today the fashion and art system commemorate his memory.