Fluence: The Continuance of Yohji Yamamoto by Takay
Takay is one of the few Japanese fashion photographers to have created a link between East and West, between past and present. His photos – which evoke and portray at the same time the Japanese reportage photography of the 60s and 70s and contemporary fashion – have been published on Vogue and have conquered designers of the caliber of Giorgio Armani.
Tsugumi model, August 2017, autumn winter 2017 – 2018 collection. On the right model Lala Takahashi, December 2017, spring summer 2019 collection
© Takay (exclusive to Vogue)
The photographer spent most of his life taking pictures between London and New York, so his book, Fluence: The Continuance of Yohji Yamamoto, is considered to be a sort of homecoming. The project, made entirely in Japan, started with portrait photos of the theater director Yukio Ninagawa wearing Yohji Yamamoto’s creations, and continued with an Adidas Y-3 campaign, which sparked Takay’s interest in the Japanese designer’s work and the desire to reconnect with his own identity. “Fluence means magic and fluid, both applicable to clothing,” he tells a Vogue the photographer. “And of course Yohji’s clothes influenced the title.”
Takay reveals the background of the book’s creation, which includes the foray into the archives of Yamamoto and the encounter with a host of Japanese talents, from the movie stars of the Shōwa era, passing through the model Lala, daughter of the Undercover designer, Jun Takahashi, and rapper Kohh.
Rie Miyazawa, actress, July 2018, Yohji Yamamoto dress spring summer 1999
You said you believed in the power of clothes and the power of photography in equal measure. Why are Yohji Yamamoto’s clothes so special to you?
“Anyone who wears Yohji’s avant-garde clothes is transformed. This amazes me. Not only that: her clothes fully represent the typical Japanese elegance and attention to detail. The wearer is influenced by all this. Yohji’s clothes inspire the wearer. “
You photographed Yohji Yamamoto’s archives for the book – did you focus on a specific era or collection?
“No, because his work does not age, whether you choose to photograph his 80s or 90s design. They didn’t look like retro clothes, so it was never a problem. We focused on the idea of creating the right look for people and situations. For example, for the actor and writer Lily Franky, we thought that a kimono pajama was suitable, combined with pieces from Yohji’s personal wardrobe. We made the shooting in a bar owned by him. “
Kurumi Emond, model, August 2017, Yohji Yamamoto fall winter 2017 2018 collection
There are several levels in this book – Yohji’s fashion, the legends of Japanese documentary photography Takashi Nakagawa and Daido Moriyama. Can we say that it is also a study of your Japanese heritage resulting from the fact that you have lived far away for so long?
“I left Japan over 20 years ago and only recently have I really felt my Japanese identity, perceiving that it is an important part of me. I realized that I had never really photographed Japan, so I decided to make this project in Tokyo. In addition, photographers Nakagawa-Sensei and Moriyama-Sensei were of great inspiration for my work, and we were fortunate to have the latter in the book. I don’t know, maybe I didn’t even notice it, but I can understand why you think it’s a fairly personal project. It brought me back to my roots. “
What made you want to create the entire book in black and white and with such honesty (a quality rare in the age of digital photography)?
“I love shooting with a manual camera and most of the shooting took place in the evening – we photographed several musicians and actors, so afternoon sessions were not covered, the artists always postponed in the evening or at midnight. For this reason I decided to take blurry, confused images and shadows without details. I thought this photographic universe blended perfectly with Yohji’s creations. I like to photograph in black and white in general, but part of Yohji’s language refers to the color black and I wanted to incorporate it. “
Char, artist, November 2018, men’s collection 2014 2015
There is a feeling of timelessness in these photos. Did you aspire to this feature? Was it a reaction to digital culture?
“I haven’t thought about it much. But I’m very happy that you used the word ‘timeless’. In a world governed by social networks, fashion photos are published every day. Nowadays what are considered fashion photographs are published on social media by people and fashion magazines. But in a week those images will be forgotten. Is absurd. It makes me sad. I believe that the photos destined to last will last. I try to take photos that reach people’s minds, that endure in their memories and in their minds. And for this particular project, photographing Yohji who makes timeless clothes leaves a lasting mark. The crossover between fashion, documentary and reportage-style photography was really interesting “.
Kimiko Yo, actress, August 2018, Yohji Yamamoto autumn winter 2004 2005 collection
© Takay – Exclusive to Vogue
Yohji’s early catalogs had a big impact on the world of fashion photography. Were they inspiration for you?
“When I saw the first 1980s catalogs made by Peter Lindbergh, I realized that they had all been photographed outside of Japan and that the clothes were European. I was curious to find out what it would have been like to photograph Japanese people in those clothes and in Japan. Because when I photographed the theater director Ninagawa-san, I sensed something. He looked so good, and then there are these exceptional Japanese artists who wear these clothes fantastically. I wanted to go deeper. “
Fluence: The Continuance of Yohji Yamamoto by Takay is a book published by Damiani and will be released on March 20, 2020