Horihata is unwavering in his admiration of Kawakubo, yet admits that his experience there was “exhausting” and “very, very stressful.” “We had to make clothes again and again—make and destroy, make and destroy,” he recalls. “We needed to make, for example, one skirt 10 times.” He even likens her studio—with its long hours, utter silence (“No chatting, just sound of paper or sewing machine”) and spare black decor (“Even the toilet is black”)—to a monastery.
Sekiguchi says that Yamamoto, in contrast, would occasionally break the quiet at his atelier by strumming a tune on the guitar. But the one sound you’d never hear there? The sharp click-clack of a pair of towering It shoes. “He doesn’t like the sound of high heels on the office wood floor,” explains Sekiguchi. In fact, Yamamoto famously loathes heels; he has made no secret of the many “scary” stiletto-shod prostitutes who occupied his childhood environs. Contrary to Stateside fashion norms, Yamamoto employees who wore heels to work had to change into flats once they hit the studio grounds.