Fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto, known for work with David Bowie, has died aged 76

Danny Thompson
Contributor
Kansai Yamamoto, center, attends the Louis Vuitton Resort 2018 show at the Miho Museum on May 14, 2017 in Koka, Japan. (Photo by Jean Chung/Getty Images)

Influential fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto, known for his work with stars such as David Bowie, has died aged 76 after battling leukaemia.

The Japanese fashion innovator’s pioneering and unique style influenced music legends Stevie Wonder and Elton John.

But it is his association with the late icon David Bowie for which he is best known, playing a huge role in the singer’s Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane phases.

News of Yamamoto’s death was announced on Monday, 27 July by actress daughter Mirai Yamamoto, who revealed her father died last week after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in March of this year.

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Posting a photo of her father, she wrote: “On July 21st, my father, Kansai Yamamoto, passed away at the age of 76. He left this world peacefully, surrounded by loved ones.

“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. He valued communication and showered me with love throughout my entire life.

David Bowie performing at a live recording of 'The 1980 Floor Show' for the NBC 'Midnight Special' TV show, at The Marquee Club in London' with a specially invited audience of Bowie fanclub members, 20th October 1973. Bowie is wearing a 'space-samurai' costume by Kansai Yamamoto. (Photo by Jack Kay/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“He also taught me to persist throughout failures and to never let go of a positive, forward-looking mindset. He viewed challenges as opportunities for self-development and always believed in the brighter days ahead. 

“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.

(L to R) Taro Otsuka, Dame Vivienne Westwood and Kansai Yamamoto attend the dinner to celebrate The David Bowie Is exhibition in partnership with Gucci and Sennheiser at the Victoria and Albert Museum on March 19, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images for Victoria and Albert Museum)

“I will continue supporting this legacy of my father through my work at KANSAI SUPER STUDIO, alongside my acting career. In doing so, I hope to spread Kansai Yamamoto’s spirit of “Genki” to the world.”

When working with Bowie in 1973, Yamamoto said: [He] has an unusual face,

David Bowie performing as Ziggy Stardust at the Hammersmith Odeon, 1973. He is wearing a silver costume with gold tassels by Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto. (Photo by Debi Doss/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“He’s neither a man nor a woman. There’s this aura of fantasy that surrounds him.”

He told The Cut in 2018: "I found David’s aesthetic and interest in transcending gender boundaries shockingly beautiful."

Talking in 1987, Bowie, who died in 2016, said of Yamamoto and and his famous designs: “He was very experimental at that time - his stuff was way off the board.”

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A statement from Kansai Yamamoto Inc has released reas: “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.

"‘Human energy is limitless’ was his motto he would never let go, and he bravely kept challenging no matter hard the situation.”