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Iconic Japanese Designer Who Dressed David Bowie Passes Away at 76

Renowned Japanese fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto passed away on July 21 at the age of 76, his family confirmed on Monday.
The avant-garde icon, known for his work with David Bowie, died surrounded by loved ones following his battle against acute myeloid leukemia

Yamamoto’s funeral was reportedly held with family and other close relatives in attendance. A public farewell is expected in the future.
“In my eyes, my father was not only the eclectic and energetic soul that the world knew him as, but someone who was also thoughtful, kind-hearted, and affectionate,” his daughter, Mirai, wrote in an Instagram post. “He valued communication and showered me with love throughout my entire life.”
Born in Yokohama in 1944, Yamamoto first studied civil engineering before venturing into the world of fashion. He became the first Japanese designer to organize a fashion show in London in 1971, according to Kyodo News.
The event marked the beginning of his international recognition. From 1974 to 1992, he held shows in the Tokyo, Paris and New York fashion weeks.
One of the outfits Yamamoto designed for Ziggy Stardust. Image via FaceMePLS (CC BY 2.0)

Yamamoto eventually became friends with high-profile musicians such as Elton John, Stevie Wonder and David Bowie, whose alter-ego Ziggy Stardust wore the designer’s eye-catching creations in his “Aladdin Insane” tour in 1973.

Yamamoto’s work fuses elements from Japanese culture into futuristic silhouettes, which come in bold and dramatic colors that easily set him apart from the minimalist aesthetic of many Japanese designers.
Kansai Yamamoto, center, attends the Louis Vuitton Resort 2018 show at the Miho Museum on May 14, 2017 in Koka, Japan. Image via Getty

After his heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, Yamamoto went on to explore modern approaches to the kimono. In 2018, Louis Vuitton enlisted him to create looks for its resort collection, which featured kabuki-inspired motifs against glitter and sequins, according to CNN.

The designer leaves the Yamamoto Kansai Company, Inc., which he founded in 1971. It released a statement on his death on Monday.
“As he fought his illness, he remained always positive, never lost his passion towards creation, and was strongly determined to recover and come back with fully-charged energy to see you again,” the company said.
“‘Human energy is limitless’ was his motto he would never let go, and he bravely kept challenging no matter hard the situation.”
Mirai shared that her father had viewed challenges as opportunities for self-development. She credited him for teaching her to persist through failures and to keep an optimistic mindset.

“I want to thank everyone who has touched my father’s life in some way, shape, or form. Without you, his legacy would not exist,” she added.
Yamamoto had been working on an online streaming event called “Nippon Genki Project 2020 Super Energy” prior to his death. It will push through as scheduled on July 31.

Feature Image via Getty

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