Notebook on Cities and Clothes, 1989

I’ve been gravitating towards a lot of simplistic ideas and philosophy on style, dressing and design in the last few weeks of the holidays. There’s something about finding meaning in the everyday act of getting dressed. It’s such a timeless endeavour and whenever the industry feels chaotic, it brings a lot of sense and order to my mind. A film I watched over the holidays that I drew inspiration from was Wim Wenders’ Notebook on Cities and Clothes about the designer Yohji Yamamoto. The documentary follows Yohji through his workdays in his studio, where he asks important questions on identity and how clothes contribute to this building of character. Wim begins with a statement and question: “you put your clothes on and you feel an identity. You adapt your clothes to how you are living your life. What is identity?”

It’s an interesting angle from Wim, who states at the outset that he’s not particularly fond of fashion or the fashion industry. For those who are independent thinkers, designers, brand owners or simply interested in identity and clothing rather than fashion, it’s a wise story. It was released in 1989 and feels as relevant as ever.  

I’d written some words to reflect my thoughts on Yohji as I watched him in the documentary, either speaking directly to the camera or focused on his work in his studio; reserved, sensitive, elusive, private, focused, disciplined, wise and truth-seeking, with a clear vision and direction. His uniform consisted of black trousers and black leather shoes with a rotation of a long-sleeve black shirt and a white button-down shirt, done all the way up. He discussed his choice to design predominantly in black because black is able to focus on a silhouette, a shape. Colour can be distracting to the silhouette. During the chaotic scenes backstage at his shows, he remains calm and focused.

 the real purpose of clothing, when worn for the purpose of warmth and protection, is beauty

people think they can consume everything

but they don’t realise the meaning of the object

it’s inspiring to think about when people were forced to live simply

people believe they can buy everything

its sad

(as a designer) manipulate the old or classic. know what needs to be new and what has to be classic.

(about work) its nice to concentrate on something, to forget the passage of time

(about fabric sourcing) if you have a strong feeling in regard to fabric, you can make a good collection. If you don’t have it, you end up ‘collecting’ a bunch of ideas to make a collection

And so I ask, do your clothes reflect the life you live? If I was to have a singular focused vision for Pantalon, it’s to create useful and thoughtful clothing for women.

Do your clothes support you? What do you lack? 


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