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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Kansai Yamamoto is a Japanese designer who did costumes for David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust days. The Ziggy Stardust Companion has a great page on the costumes here.

Bowie in a Kansai Yamamoto costume
From The Ziggy Stardust Companion

I’m pretty sure Bowie is wearing his Yamamoto short kimono without the cape — but presumably with the matching hot pants — in this 1973 performance clip. [UPDATED IN JULY 2013 TO NOTE THAT THE VIDEO THAT USED TO BE HERE HAS DISAPPEARED FROM YOUTUBE. SIGH.]

Not everything Yamamoto did was so wild. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute has this cheerful Yamamoto sweater.

If you happen to be in the City of Brotherly Love, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has a Yamamoto exhibit until spring. The museum’s website notes that Yamamoto’s heyday was the ’70s and ’80s and says:

“Since his last collection for fall/winter 1992, Kansai has lent his name to licensed products ranging from eyeglasses to tableware. His fashion show spectaculars have become the framework for the grand Kansai Super Shows, the first of which was held in Moscow’s Red Square in 1993. Others held since in Japan, Vietnam, India, and Berlin have drawn audiences in the hundreds of thousands.

Kansai recently returned to fashion as a designer of traditional Japanese garments in a contemporary idiom including kimono (2004) and Hanten festival–inspired coats (2007). He continues to produce Super Shows as part of a larger initiative to invigorate the arts in Japan and serves as a government advisor on tourism and cultural affairs.”

There are a few eye-catching Yamamoto pieces on eBay now. Click the photos to go to the auctions.

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35 Responses to “eBay Picks of the Day: Kansai Yamamoto”

  1. Fashion_Loving_Stylist says:

    Those are great.

  2. janettaylor says:

    Hi Wendy,

    I adore Yamamoto and other japanese designer, especially Tsumori Chisato!

    Great post!

    xoxo & hugs: Janet

  3. Maya says:

    how fun is that suit!

  4. Sharon Rose says:

    Hi there-very bold vibrant pieces, I love them!

  5. Ladies Who Lunch says:

    I think the middle one would suit you Wendy! You could wear that in front of one of those paintings!

  6. coco says:

    I love Yamamoto. I wouldn’t wear most of his clothes but I think they are fantastic.

  7. KATLIN says:

    That last jacket reminds me of the type of print that boys would wear on their shorts or t-shirts in the early 90s… like Maui and Sons-esque.


    Kansai Yamamoto and most other Japanese designers have my heart endy! why are they so creative and talented?
    love most of their work.hope its stopped snowing over there,keep warm dear.

  9. Gamutrice says:

    Bowie knows he looks like a giant vagina in that Yamamoto costume.

  10. enc says:

    Those looks really are evocative of an era. I really love the prints. That j-suit is extraordinary. I was hoping the “Companion page” would tell me what kind of fabric that is, but it didn’t, unless I missed something. Do you think it’s all done in sequins?

    I never knew who the designer was. Thanks for doing all the background research for me!

  11. Paul Pincus says:

    SO amazing!

  12. Dr Zibbs says:

    Ziggy Stardust was great!

  13. La Belette Rouge says:

    The jumpsuit would be better on ENC than it was on Bowie.

  14. LML says:

    oh i love Mr.Huxtable crazy sweaters!

  15. Alicia/InstantVintage says:

    NICE! I kinda miss that Bowie.

    *puts Ziggy into compy CD deck*

  16. catherinette says:

    I’d love to saunter into my next meeting with the same outfit that David Bowie had on. That is so hot for the financial industry…

  17. lisa says:

    You always find the coolest things on eBay. 🙂

  18. Tavi says:

    Excellent post! I love that Bowie wore Yamamoto.

  19. Annie says:

    I would love to see that exhibit. I’m a huge Bowie fan, too, by the way 🙂

  20. Skye says:

    Ah, I like those. Especially those crazy prints. Make me happy.

  21. Swell Vintage - Frankie says:

    That top one is dreamy x

  22. KD says:

    I love the rainbow sweater!

  23. Savvy Mode SG says:

    i adore japanese designers, simple yet dramatic.

  24. Isabel says:

    Can David Bowie come with the clothes??? Please??

  25. KT says:

    Where are the Huxtables???

  26. jaime says:

    wow wow i really like the first one, it’s so unique!

  27. Nina (femme rationale) says:

    LOVE bowie. so sexy. and the sweater w/the panther is like that dress kate moss designed…er…knocked off…for top shop.

  28. Dooder City says:

    Wow, these Yamamato pieces have so much energy in them, they are so alive.

  29. Lynette says:

    Wow! I am amazed! The colors, the designs, the lively clothing that results.

  30. Siljesfashion says:


  31. SnapandPrint says:

    Bowie wore Yamamotot well!

    On a Bowie note..I have had his songs in my head the last few days…the songs from his “Ziggy Stardust” days.

    Great post!

  32. Theresa says:

    those jumpers are so vibrant, i like

  33. LJ says:

    Dang! the last coat is pretty damn crazy! love it..
    xx-LJ from SOS!

  34. market publique says:

    amazing! I want the first two!

  35. atelier says:

    very interesting article 😉