Keisukeyoshida Tokyo Fall 2024

Keisuke Yoshida held his fall show on the campus grounds of Rikkyo University, a private Christian institution where the designer went to school as a child. For 16 bittersweet years Yoshida, now 33, shuffled around this place, and tonight the memories of that forlorn little boy came back to haunt it once more. The runway was set down the long path leading from the gate into the school’s cafeteria, and the twilight sky filled with the sound of pipe organs as we waited for the show to begin.

From the outset, the collection was heady with the fumes of academia. Starting with perfectly pressed school uniforms and neckties, it moved to teacherly tailoring, delicate silk blouses, and mumsy floral dresses. A boy scout uniform was made from waxed cotton, while randoseru backpacks (the square-shaped ones that Japanese schoolchildren carry) were transformed into adult-appropriate leather handbags. Buttoned-up trench coats and satiny shirts clasped high at the neck, while cassock-like dresses complete with dog collars covered the body, or were slightly unbuttoned from the bottom to allow flashes of leg and pointed heels to peek out. In one look, the vicar garb appeared in a black leather jacket, fitted close to the body and tucked into a tight leather pencil skirt. Long leather belts trailed on the floor like threats of punishment. There were bright blazes of red, and a deep purple symbolizing Rikkyo Academy, a color “burned into Yoshida’s eyes since childhood,” according to the show notes.

The idea of showing at his alma mater had been on Yoshida’s mind for a while. “I’ve been having recurring dreams around once a month—nightmares that I keep failing in school, and it brings me back here,” he said after the show. “Then I wake up and I realize I’m an adult and I’m relieved, but there’s also a strange feeling that I can’t quite shake.” It was the unnameable texture of this feeling that he’d explored, and doing so had shifted something in him: “I felt that I was more in touch with my core this season,” he said.

A sense of forbidden eroticism, the elegance of adults in the eyes of a child, the slow violence of spent youth—he laid it all out with disarming emotional depth, and managed to transform these difficult feelings into wonderfully dignified clothes. The path ahead is long, but Yoshida’s inner child can rest easy tonight: he’s passed this season with full marks.

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