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  • Minimal yet avant-garde – a description that
    fits both the music and look of celebrated
    Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto.
  • The former made him
    famous, first as part of
    the Yellow Magic
    Orchestra, a popular
    Seventies electro pop
    outfit and later as a
    composer who
    collaborates with the
    likes of Brian Wilson,
    Robert Wyatt and
    Talking Heads’
    David Byrne.
  • It’s the latter that’s currently
    enchanting the fashion set –
    Ryuichi inspired Balenciaga’s
    S/S 13 menswear collection,
    and his signature monochrome
    and minimal details are all over
    the spring style pages.

    Toyko native Ryuichi famously
    co-starred with man of the moment
    David Bowie in 1983’s Merry
    Christmas Mr Lawrence, for which
    he also composed the score.
    It helped establish him
    as a true east-meets-west
    cultural figure, and it’s
    that element that designers are
    currently finding so powerful.
  • The aforementioned
    Balenciaga collection
    focuses on fabrics and
    shapes with oriental
    resonance - textured
    silks and heavy cottons,
    kimono coats,
    single-button jackets,
    loose trousers, most of
    which Ryuichi counts
    as his daily uniform.
  • Raf Simons’ sparse
    suits with an
    over-sized silhouette,
    Yohji Yamamoto’s
    discreet mandarin
    collars and Ann
    Demeulemeester’s
    slouchy, down-town
    chic kimono jackets
    too have echoes of the
    composer and his
    modern take on tradition
    and classics that is
    the nexus of
    post-war Japan.
  • Culturally, Ryuichi
    remains a force –
    recently appearing in
    Carine Roitfeld’s CR
    Book and
    collaborating with
    Thierry Mugler’s
    Nicola Formichetti on
    a selection of remixes.
    His personal sense of
    style has the same
    potential longevity,
    timeless yet modern, a
    classic – much like
    the man himself.


Unlikely Style Icon: Ryuichi Sakamoto

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