Kansai Yamamoto – Debut Vogue Shoot 1971 and more…


I think without doubt designer Kansai Yamamoto will always have a very special place in my heart. He was then and is to this day, ahead of his time. His work encompasses so much more than just fashion and takes in architecture, interiors and large scale public performances dedicated to making the world a better place (read his incredible biography here). He is a true visionary as David Bowie, British Vogue and others clearly recognised when he arrived in London in the early 70s.

Poster Available now – A4-A3-A2 from £30.00-£55.00 (plus p & p) C-Type print SHOP NOW

Kansai chose his own models and wanted the sessions to be ethnically mixed (and rightly so), but this was very much the exception for the time. There’s a determination in his eyes, looking straight at you at the centre back of the image above, sat behind Marie Helvin (who Kansia discovered) and who was shooting  here for British Vogue, very early in her career, if not for the first time, before she became more widely known.


Poster Available now – A4-A3-A2 from £30.00-£55.00 (plus p & p) C-Type print SHOP NOW

The above image of Marie is one of my favourites from the session, the light, clothes and mood, just worked perfectly.


Poster Available now – A4-A3-A2 from £30.00-£55.00 (plus p & p) C-Type print SHOP NOW

Kansia also introduced me to the amazing model Sayoko Yamaguchi who I first shot for Harpers (UK) and then shot privately for this portrait above. Sayoko was one of the most beautiful women I have ever photographed and was without a doubt the first Asian supermodel. She was also a very talented designer in her own right, which somehow seemed to translate into a deep intelligence and intuition for what I needed when taking a pictures of her. I am very moved by this image still  and was greatly saddened to hear that she died so young in 2007. I never had the chance to photograph her again, she was a gift to the camera and the eye.


It is fantastic that Kansia and I have managed to maintain a connection since the 1970s and that be both debuted at Vogue at the same time. In the fickle world of fashion, relationships and creative connections are something to be cherished. Below are some pictures I shot for Kansia when he very kindly invited me out to Japan in 2014 of his most recent collection.



  • Clive Arrowsmith is still  shooting stunning images, staging exhibitions and is as passionate about photography as he was when he first pressed the shutter at The Paris Collections. He is available for global media opportunities related to his work and photography generally. Bespoke prints from Clive’s archive are also available by special request, for any enquiries  (email Eugenie here). Clive’s book Arrowsmith: Fashion, Beauty & Portraits is available here and Lowry at Home: Salford 1966 is available here

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.