Legendary Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto has given a lengthy interview to Business of Fashion in which he discusses his roots, his successes, his failures and his fashion philosophy.

Born the only son of a war widow, Yohji was raised by his mother and spent his childhood and university career studying to please her. He explains that he begged his mother, herself a dressmaker, to let him work for her once he finished studying, “I didn’t want to join the ordinary society,” he says. “So I told my mother after graduation…I want to help you.” She reluctantly agreed on the stipulation that he attended the now famous Bunka fashion college in Tokyo.

After graduating from Bunka he received a prize to go to Paris for a year. It was then that he experienced his first disappointment in fashion. He repeatedly failed to persuade magazines to cover his work, and feeling dejected, stopping drawing and took up drinking and gambling instead. Upon returning to Japan, however, he found his true voice as a designer which eventually lead him back to Paris and to much lauded success in both high fashion and streetwear.

Watch the video above to find out exactly how he turned his career around, and be sure to head over to BoF to read the full accompanying article.

Go inside the fashion school that taught Yohji Yamamoto and Junya Watanabe.

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