“I am not a fashion designer, I am a dress maker” - Yohji Yamamoto

(Warning! There are no subtitles when Yamamoto responds to questions in Japanese)

Our identity is constantly questioned, whether it is by others or ourselves. What about identity is important for us to know?  In Notebook on Cities and Clothes, German filmmaker, Wim Wenders, goes on this journey in making this short film (or notebook film clips) about the fashion designer, Yohji Yamamoto, instead of discovering this person creates his piece of work and where he finds his inspiration from, Wenders learns that clothes and fashion is more than just something we wear.

Wenders began this project not at all intrigued in filming about fashion stating “I’m interested in the world, not in fashion.” But then discovered more to this world through the eyes of Yamamoto. Learning that the two have common beliefs and curiosities about people and their way of life. Thus leading Wenders to ask more meaningful and genuinely curious questions to Yamamoto on his creative process. Humans are naturally curious beings.

Identity and style go hand in hand and sometimes we are often sucked into this giant vortex from mainstream media influencing us on what is the fad in how we dress. In one scene, Yamamoto flips through this book of images of working men during the time period maybe the late 1800 to the early 1900 and in each image Yamamoto talks about how people during those time were intriguing because you were tell what these men professions were and the face matches to what they’re wearing and to their profession whereas during the time this film was made, if you walked in the streets you couldn’t really tell. From his design and in this film you can easily tell that Yamamoto has this unique perspective and appreciation for that particular style and is able to take something from the past and modernize to his eye and to his unique style. Yamamoto does not make clothes for just fashion, it’s his work, his contribution to art. To him, the color he chooses, the types of fabric, he uses and don’t uses is his perspective of on what appropriately shows the human body.

Further in the film, Wenders talks about style and how people often sticks to a general societal style. A common act people unconsciously do and points out that Yamamoto has done the same but, “The moment he learned to accept his own style, suddenly the prisoner open up to a great freedom.”

Meaning, once a person understand themselves and understand their own style or their own person in this big world theirs then a person can understand that they are more this individually unique and freely being in society. Clothing and fashion is not just something we wear, not only a freedom of expression but a glimpse of our identity (that will always grow and change) our preferences, our history, and appreciation of culture.

This film was really interesting to watch, not only the content and how Yamamoto sees clothes but, how Wenders approaches in the film and the growing interest he gain when documenting the dress maker himself.