His clothes may be avant-garde to the point of being unwearable for most, but Kansai Yamamoto's work in the '70s and '80s laid the foundation of contemporary Japanese fashion and for the outbreak of brands like Comme des Garçons, Issey Miyake, and Yohji Yamamoto.
In 1971, Yamamoto was the first Japanese designer to show his work in London. His larger-than-life patterns and silhouettes were influenced by the colorful art of the Momoyama period of 1568-1615 and also the vibrant costumes of Kabuki theater. The clothes were seen by David Bowie who later commissioned Yamamoto to create the wardrobe of Ziggie Stardust, leading to an epic partnership and ushering in the influential subculture of glam. Yamamoto hasn't designed since 1992, but the campy extravagance of his clothing and shows were at the height of '70s excess and put Japan on the map as a fashion powerhouse.