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Japanese Rock Star Yoshiki Flows Seamlessly Into Fashion: ‘Music and Fashion Are Almost Inseparable’

As with his long music career, Yoshiki’s eventual foray into fashion seemed inevitable.

“I’m the oldest son, and, usually, the son takes over the family business,” Yoshiki, Variety’s International Achievement in Music honoree, says about the expectations for him to take over his parents’ kimono shop. “I was always surrounded by those flashy kimonos. I knew every single process because my father had a kind of factory behind the store.”

He continues: “I became a musician, but fashion’s always been around — music and fashion are almost inseparable.”

The multihyphenate is playing in the major leagues with his Maison Yoshiki Paris brand, which recently launched at Milan’s Fashion Week. Yoshiki says he is overwhelmed by the “great response” to the line and his show.

The fashion connection was always there. In the early 1980s, with X Japan, Yoshiki and his bandmates pioneered international interest in what would soon be known as Japan’s Visual Kei fashion and music movement. The cover of the band’s 1989 sophomore album, “Blue Blood,” featured the phrase “Psychedelic Violence Crime of Visual Shock,” words that embodied Yoshiki and his peers’ androgynous makeup, clothes and brightly dyed hairstyles.

“I was a rebel; I rebelled against everything,” he says of the time. “I came from a classical music background, but at the same time, I loved punk rock … I wanted to dress like David Bowie-ish. It’s glam, and also androgynous. So, we are also playing really heavy rock music, but we dress in kind of a feminine style as well. People were like, ‘What are you doing?’ I thought, ‘Why not?’”

Yoshiki admits that too much focus on X Japan’s look, instead of their music, affected him.

“At the beginning, I was having a really hard time,” he says. “A lot of critics and people didn’t get it. I was kind of like a target. I became kind of noticeable and then people started attacking me. Our fashion was very flashy, so people didn’t pay attention to our music. Some people said, ‘Do you play music or just dress up like that?’ I’m pretty confident in music — people didn’t know I had a classical music background — but we went through some rough times.”

Yoshiki took his love of fashion and married it with Japanese tradition (and his parents’ vocation) with a rock-inspired kimono line, Yoshikimono, in 2011. The collection has had its pieces featured in museums in London, Paris and Tokyo. Yoshikimono has also done a collaboration with the popular anime series “Attack on Titan.”

Day-to-day, “I’m pretty indecisive” about wardrobe. “Including stage outfits, I have a bunch ready to go and I decide pretty much last minute — I improvise a lot. But even in music, I improvise a lot so I’m doing improvisation in fashion as well.”

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