Yoshiki: Japanese heavy metal star, icon of kimono design
Despite the fact that it is difficult for him to go unnoticed with his distinctive aesthetic, little is known about Yoshiki in Europe. A multidisciplinary Japanese artist and an authentic media phenomenon who balances his career as a rock star and front man of heavy metal group X Japan, which has sold more than 50 million albums and singles around the world, with varied side projects, ranging from the production of wine in California's Napa Valley to his work with the ancestral heritage of Japanese fashion through his brand, Yoshikimono, which he founded 10 years ago and which is specialized in kimono design.
The most recent of his artistic ventures has seen Yoshiki reinterpret Baccarat's "Harcourt" glass in celebration of the 180th anniversary of the iconic design from the French luxury brand specialized in crystal. This collaborative project, which is on display at Maison Baccarat in Paris, until November 30, involved a total of 11 international designers, including Clara Daguin, Charles de Vilmorin, Tom Van der Borght, Mira Mikati and Kévin Germanier.
"As a rock artist, I have played heavy metal for an audience of 100,000 people. And as a pianist and classical composer, I have held a piano concert for the Emperor of Japan's birthday, so it's natural for me to create traditional things that are simultaneously very disruptive," says Yoshiki, by way of explanation for his rock reinterpretation of the classic Baccarat model, a dualistic design which, depending on the angle from which one looks at it, looks like a flaming chalice or a poisonous flower about to open. "I wanted to make it as daring as possible. Just because it's a drinking glass, that doesn't mean it has to be completely functional," he added.
Indeed, innovation when presented with heritage is part of the identity of the artist, as well as of his fashion creations. "When I design for my own brand, I try to do the same thing, to be as traditional and as rock and roll as possible with my kimonos," says Yoshiki, commenting on his unconventional kimonos, which have earned him a spot in the "Kimono; from Kyoto to catwalk" exhibition hosted by London's Victoria & Albert Museum, as well as in the retrospective dedicated to the historic garment in the Tokyo National Museum.
These two projects were launched in early 2020, just before the Covid-19 pandemic struck and limited their scope. "My philosophy in life has always been, 'never take anything for granted.' I've always believed that, since my father committed suicide when I was ten years old. So, for me, the pandemic made me realize that what we had before was a miracle," he ponders, emphasizing that "the mission of the artist" in difficult times is none other than to lift people's spirits. Having spent months of the pandemic dedicated to working on a film, his music and new designs, Yoshiki hopes that his "creations can help people in the future."
Convinced that the future of fashion is hybrid, despite which he claims that, thanks to his career as a musician, what most moves him is playing in front of his fans, Yoshiki is optimistic about what's to come. An admirer of the latest collections from Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, the designer has decided to present his collection in Paris for the first time in March of next year. In France, therefore, Yoshiki's collaboration with Baccarat is just a taste of what's to come.
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