About ten years ago while living in New York and working at Bumble and bumble, a co-worker and I were discussing my love of Yohji Yamamoto and a "fierce draped look." He encouraged me to watch a film about Yamamoto entitled "Notebooks on Cities and Clothes" by Wim Wenders.
Wenders was commissioned in 1988 by the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris to execute a documentary about fashion and its place in modern society. Wenders was turned off by the proposal and instead chose to concentrate on a designer whose work he was familiar with and who's clothing he felt comfortable wearing, Yohji Yamamoto.
The film is as much about Wenders as it is about Yamamoto. The shooting which took place over the course of a year established a great friendship between the two which later resulted in an insanely beautiful coffee table book titled Yamamoto & Yohji.
Eleven minutes and three seconds into the film ( Oh trust, I know the timestamp click HERE to view it for yourself) Wenders shows a clip of Yamamoto's studio and mentions a book entitled "Men Of The Twentieth Century" by August Sander. The camera is fixed on Yamamoto's hands as he flips thru the massive book. Yellow post-it notes bookmark incredible portraits of men from all different walks of life. The portraits seemed to have been captured so effortlessly. Their clothing, a direct reflection of their profession and or background. Yamamoto talks about how each of the men has "exactly the right face. I am admiring their faces and their clothing." he says.
I was entranced and incredibly inspired by how big of a role references and times past played to him and had to know more. I remember hitting pause to try and find a copy of this book only to learn it was out of print and was selling for upwards of 1500.00 on every site I visited. (The book is now titled People Of The Twentieth Century and is available for a much more affordable price here.) It was at this moment that my true love of references began. It was in that moment that I realized looking to the past was how I would be able to fuel the future.
Hywel Davies who is a course leader for Central Saint Martin's Fashion Communication course said it best. "To be creative and new, you need to know what has happened before and react against it. You have to be aware of what has happened to be truly innovative."
References are an essential part of most all creative trade’s yet it seems more and more that imagery of times past are quickly being whittled down and replaced by heavily filtered Instagram ready trends. The more extensive our library of references the more extensive our knowledge of the masters who came before us the better our chance to present something inspired rather than copied. The better our opportunity to be truly innovative! I am excited to share with you some things that have inspired me over the years and hopefully will do the same for you!