Stalking vintage Kansai Yamamoto... Rotterdam's Temporary Fashion Museum!

Honestly, nowhere is safe anymore. I'm trying to commit to a shopping fast after the holiday and the run-up to Christmas, but it seems that Andy Warhol's prediction that in the future all museums will be like department stores and all department stores will be like museums is coming true. At least the first part is.

The upshot of this development is that I've just rifled through possibly the best collection of vintage fashion I've ever seen on sale anywhere, and this 80's Kansai Yamamoto needlecord blouse positively leapt off the rail at me. 

For those who don't already know, Kansai (not Yohji) Yamamoto designed David Bowie's legendary costumes for the Ziggy Stardust tour and his clothes are as rare as they are iconic. I don't think my pictures do this garment justice, but hopefully I've captured the vivid neon colours and you might be able to tell from the look on my face how awed I am to be wearing Actual Kansai.

I absolutely love it and can see this thing fitting right in. It could work all year round for all kinds of occasions. But there are a few problems: the sleeves are a little short, there's some slight (but not visible or irreparable) damage, and for all its impeccable provenance it's an awful lot of money for a used shirt.

I had them put it aside. I'm going to think it over before I go back to Rotterdam next week, but I'd like to know what you think.

  • Yay! Great holiday wear that suits you down to the ground! 
  • Nay! Your '80's id is getting the better of you. Save your money and walk away!
This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Astrid replied 3 years ago

    If I have to be honest - I vote nay. Especially if it's "an awful lot of money". Sorry.

  • old chic replied 3 years ago

    It makes your heart sing. You have to have it!

  • donnat replied 3 years ago

    I have to say, I love it! It totally suits your style. I can see it working with all sorts of things as well. Definately a Yay!

  • JAileen replied 3 years ago

    I wrote this on Rachylou's thread about a gown she found at Goodwill: I will buy crazy things, but only if they fit. The sleeves are too short. Will that bother you? It would bother me a lot.

  • Liz replied 3 years ago

    I'd vote yay (why not?) except for the fact that you'd committed to a shopping fast, apparently something to do with holidays or finances. If you buy this shirt, what financial decisions does that force in other areas of your life, and are you willing to make those decisions or sacrifices?  

  • Angie replied 3 years ago

    I wanted to love it, Liz - after all, the '80s were SO GLORIOUS. I love the pattern with your hair (excellent repetition of the colour orange), but the shoulder pads on your already IT frame looks off to my eye. The neckline isn't your best and the sleeves are too short. This top is expensive - I vote save your pennies.

    (And I responded to your comment on this morning's blog post so take a peek). 

  • approprio replied 3 years ago

    Thanks all! It's good to walk away and get some perspective on an instant infatuation.

    Liz: the shopping fast is as much about clearing the decks and reevaluating as saving money just now. I'd like to spend a couple of months shopping my closet so I can be realistic about new additions.  

    Angie: you're dead right as usual. I think I might be in love with the idea of this thing as much as the garment itself. And I didn't really notice the problem with the shoulder pads IRL, but it's definitely an issue in the photos on inspection. That and the sleeve length throws it all off balance. 

    Too bad. I wanted to love it too. 

  • Angie replied 3 years ago

    (I also LOVED the shocking pink facings - the '80s were the best). 

    Liz, there will be a better piece round the corner. Promise. Much love to you too. 

  • replied 3 years ago

    I do see what Angie means...and I find the length of the sleeves a bit betwixt and between....not long enough for full length...too long for 3/4.


  • approprio replied 3 years ago

    Angie, I know! That glorious print though... I'm wondering what it would look like if I swapped those thick shoulder pads for smaller ones... might translate to extra length in the sleeves... Arrgh!

  • skylurker replied 3 years ago

    I love the print, not the shape : sleeves too short, shoulders too big and neckline too high and choked.
    I've tried removing shoulders pads in the past and advise against it  - the shoulder line came out fine (my shoulders are strong enough so the top hang well without pads) but the sleeves fit was all wrong (upper arms too wide).
    I understand the romance of vintage designer stuff, and enjoyed reading about Kansai Yamamoto, but I've stopped trying to make vintage pieces work : too many fit issues and it's rare to find items in good condition.

  • missvee replied 3 years ago

    Hmm...I can see how much you want it to work, but if you're going to have to alter it significantly then is the original piece compromised? Why don't you consider it an inspiration piece - look for some fabric with a similar graphic pattern and make yourself a blouse with perfect styling and fit?
    With your skills you'll have something truly special.

  • approprio replied 3 years ago

    skylurker: I'm a die-hard vintage shopper and I've always loved the challenge of putting a contemporary spin on fashion from a different era. You're quite right, it's harder than ever to find great pieces and prices are going up as a result, but they are still out there. And I am an absolute sucker for '80's fashion, so there's that.

    missvee: it's kind of you to say so, but believe me, with this piece the fabric is everything. Everything! The photos don't come close to capturing the magic that blinded me to all the problems with the fit, which is probably just as well because I wouldn't be picking it apart right now. 

  • Diana replied 3 years ago

    Well, (as I'm sure you can guess) the sleeves would really bother me.  But that print is amazing!  If it wasn't so spendy, I'd say buy it and shorten the sleeves to a true 3/4 length, but it doesn't sound like it's worth it at the current price.

  • Xtabay replied 3 years ago

    It's fabulous and inspiring.  I guess I'd probably offer them what I thought it was worth or could comfortably afford, and see if they'd accept the offer.  If not, walk away. 

  • La Pedestrienne replied 3 years ago

    I'm with Xtabay -- point out the damage and make an offer! If they say yes, great, if not, that's okay too. Leave it up to fate. :)

  • shevia replied 3 years ago

    I will be the voice of unreason, or shall we say the heart has its reasons - putting the price aside, I could see you cutting out the sleeves to almost racer style and using the material for something else. The bare arms and shoulders would offset the neckline. Just a thought anyway.

  • approprio replied 3 years ago

    Ladies, I do like your thinking, but I'm probably going to pass on this piece. I may go and give it another look and consider how it will play with smaller shoulder pads but any more alteration would be sacrilege. 

    I may love it but if it doesn't love me back that doesn't bode well for our future relationship. I already have one Bad Boyfriend from the era and I probably don't need another. The great thing about fashion, though, is that unlike lovers, you know that when you pass one up for being imperfect you'll be heading into the arms of something better soon.

    Just to be sure, I put on the vintage Kenzo this morning to remind myself how good '80's fashion can be when it fits properly. I shouldn't settle for less. 

  • Janet replied 3 years ago

    Ah, I'm late to this, but I understand. When something is so close to being right that we're blinded to the problems with it -- it's a dangerous spot, isn't it? I also wondered about shortening the sleeves to a try 3/4 length and removing the shoulder pads or changing them out, but I see that the drawbacks of those strategies have already been mentioned. 

    Love your Bad Boyfriend post! I must share with you the video I saw on Facebook yesterday:

  • approprio replied 3 years ago

    Ah Janet, you made my day! Everything is magically cool when you add Grace Jones. Yes, even Christmas with PeeWee Herman.

    I've got goosebumps now. And La Vie En Rose on repeat :)

  • Janet replied 3 years ago

    :-) Grace Jones is awesome. 

  • Style Fan replied 3 years ago

    Late to this but I was so blown away by the fabric pattern at first that I didn't notice the fit of the piece and got excited.  However after reading Angie's comments I realized how right she was.  There will be other bad boyfriends waiting for you.  I know.  I have had many.  :)

  • Xtabay replied 3 years ago

    Thanks for that Grace Jones clip, Janet.  I thought I'd seen all the PeeWee's Playhouse epis, but I must have missed that one.  I've always liked her style.

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