Known for sudden bursts of violent action, a muted color palette and lingering static shots, director, producer and actor ‘Beat’ Takeshi Kitano is one of today’s best-known and most stylish Japanese filmmakers. From his collaborations with Yohji Yamomoto—who he worked with to re-invent traditional Japanese costumes in Dolls (2002)—to the ever-cool louche tailoring worn by his yakuza and rogue cop characters in films like Sonatine (1993) and Hana-bi (1998), Kitano’s films both document and influence Japanese clothing and style.

In many ways, as an auteur, he parallels the approach of Japanese avant-garde designers like Yamomoto and Rei Kawakubo. Kitano disrupts genre conventions, with his violent, yet sentimental detectives and gangsters who he portrays in a nuanced, redeeming light. Similarly, Yamomoto and Kawakubo have built their reputation on their inspired deconstruction and subversion of conventional standards of beauty and dress. Kitano draws on their transgressive attitude, often deconstructing the uniforms of detectives and celebrating yakuza style, using clothing as a device to develop characters.

While the majority of Kitano’s eleven films present striking style moments, here we take a look at Sonatine, Hana-bi and Dolls. Each displays significant style moments and charts Kitano’s central themes: sentimentality, deconstruction and the outsider.

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Tags: yohji-yamamoto, movies