Yohji Yamamoto, one of the few living fashion designers who warrants the superlative “legend,” thinks of nothing in the orthodox way. For him, the jacket is exotic; the suit can be a slight provocation; and the dress is complete when it has been masterfully deconstructed. He is a man who adores asymmetry, mischief, and maybe even a little chaos.
Yamamoto has been on something of a tear when it comes to puckish collaborations this year, designing a Lamborghini and releasing a Supreme collection earlier this fall. And his latest trick, his second timepiece with Swiss watchmaker Hublot, is just as sly. With a camouflage face and matching wristband–you might think of it as camouflage wearing itself–the Big Bang Camo is a flashy watch in disguise, the kind of paradox that makes Yamamoto, well, tick. We spoke by email to Yamamoto about time—he spends it, but also how he thinks about it.
Why is black the best color for a watch? What about camo? Do you like the idea of a watch that blends in? Why or why not?
Black, to me, represents frustration and despair from thinking that I am nobody. And it represents strong will to break down such feelings and a freedom that coexists with the will. In addition, it involves a responsibility that is on the opposite side of such freedom. Also, it connects to a shadow of my artisanal sentiments.
What causes you to look at your watch? You’re tired? You worry you’re late? It’s time for a drink? (When is cocktail hour for you, by the way?)
Perhaps I may look at it when I have several appointments during a day. And since I can’t drink much, there is no cocktail hour for me.
What’s your favorite time of day?
Morning walk with my beloved dog.
You love design—in fashion, art, music, and timepieces, it seems—that is funny. Why are you attracted to humor in design?
There’s humor somewhere in expressed masterpiece. It is something that can only be seen after individual lives and overcame certain struggles. I aim to create something that has what we call “spécialité” in French.
How long is the ideal song?
If I was to play, I would say 3 minutes. If I was to listen, maybe 6 minutes.
People are really rushed nowadays. Do you think time is a luxury? Is slowing down the ultimate expression of opulence?
I’m lazy by nature, so time limits and deadlines help with my work. And there’s often an essence of “vestige/OMOKAGE” or “remnant” if you will, in things I want to create. “Vestige/OMOKAGE” is something that was there is no longer, and only remains as something in one’s mind. And time plays a big role. The change over a course of time…that is something beautiful in my mind. In that sense, time is luxury, and has the power of design that I very much envy.