A commentary on Yoshitaka Amano and fashion

Illustration by Yoshitaka Amano

Since the inception of the Final Fantasy series in 1987, Yoshitaka Amano is a name synonymous with the franchise. The lifeblood of Final Fantasy has roots in Amano’s work; his distinctive style evoked romantic worlds and characters with the gentle, empty expressions. All character designs, whether concept or in-game, has its genealogy in Amano. All mainline Final Fantasy titles feature Amano logos. Surely, Square Enix is aware the fanbase expects, at the very least, a trace of his heritage in their FF adventure. Personally, the art of Final Fantasy was the main draw for me as a little fish, wading in the shores of the vast JRPG ocean. That Final Fantasy VIII logo strikes a chord in me so deep and visceral; I cry at just the thought.

In an effort to communicate sustainability, Vogue Italia opted for a photoshoot-free January 2020 issue, with all creative assets provided by illustrators and artists, according to Hypebeast. Seven covers were created, with Amano’s featuring a striking depiction of an alluring Lindsey Wixson in Gucci Spring/Summer 2020. The cobalt is blue as a lagoon, contrasting against Wixon’s dirty blonde; the addition of feathers suggests a siren, or a sly faerie. In the runway show, the dress is a much sexier affair, barely suggesting a neckline, styled with a black vinyl choker and an equestrian-meets-BDSM feathered riding crop. Amano’s illustration is more subdued, and strongly resembles any of the work he’s done for Final Fantasy. Frankly, any of the illustrations he provided for that issue could easily pass as stylish concept art for an upcoming Square Enix.

Photo by Filippo Fior via Vogue.com

A fashion and couture-RPG would make me shell out any amount of money to play and own. (Sidenote: I’m strongly considering spending $250 CAD to own the Amano cover, despite not understanding a lick of Italian.) Being drawn to visuals, fashion was a surprising but natural evolution in the plethora of my personal interests. Fashion design and character design speak the same language, fantasy can be equipped as a guiding lens. If any game developer decided to flesh out a modern fashion-focused product, heavily influenced by today’s runway, the industry could welcome an entirely new segment of customers into their fanbases. A serious collaboration between haute couture and video games? This is not so far-fetched of an idea.

Lightning (of Final Fantasy XIII) starred in a Louis Vuitton Spring-Summer 2016, brandishing handbags in her battle stances. In 2015, English fashion designer Vivienne Westwood became a canon character in the Final Fantasy XV universe, designing the wedding dress of Lunafreya Nox Fleuret. Noel Kreiss, Sazh Katzroy and Hope Estheim (in their Final Fantasy XIII-2 era) join Lightning to digitally model Prada’s Spring/Summer 2012. Most recently and less ostentatiously, cult phenomenon Neku and his magic fashion pins returns to the video game zeitgeist with the sequel NEO: The World Ends With You, which is heavily influenced by Harajuku and Shibuya street style, which in turn are heavily influence by Japanese fashion artists Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons. There’s evidently a connection worth exploring here.

Today’s feature will be Yoshitaka Amano’s illustration work for the Vogue Italia January ’20, sourced from Yoshitaka Amano’s official website. They’re truly showstopping, with the prettiest colour palettes. He’s got a way with the intricacies of prints and fabric textures, particularly in his interpretation of ruffles and ruching. I’m at a loss in ID’ing the actual garments, but they may just be Amano’s own designs. I’m feeling strong hints of Yuna (FFX), her wedding dress and Gullwings outfit, and the aforementioned Lunafreya (FFXV). Befitting the fantasy, the collection even features an excessively ornate, grotesque behemoth, glaring down from a watermelon sky; very final boss of Vogue Italia.

Fashion as an inspiration in the video game industry is still uncommon, but the seeds of what could be germinate. If the benchmark of character and art design strongly involved fashion and style, much like Amano’s work, purveyors of the fashion industry could likely enjoy the stories and find their own inspiration in gaming. With fashion houses moving into exploring digital celebrities through technology, video game characters are a perfect avatar for corporate messaging. Which is where the lines between art and commerce begin blur. There’s an array of directions the confluence of video games and fashion could yield: more brand collaborations, more photoshoot-free magazines, luxury fashion DLC, game-compatible NFTs, Final Fantasy characters in Dior and McQueen. I’ll admit that one of my favourite parts of Final Fantasy XV was changing my party’s outfits. If I could have my FF protagonist constantly dash through their fantasy world in SS22 Dior, I’d have reached the peak of my personal media fantasies.

Additional reading:

“Gucci Spring 2020 Ready-To-Wear” by Nicole Phelps, for Vogue.com

“Story and Style Converge in The World Ends With You” by Ria Teitelbaum, for Wired

“Why Fashion Illustration Matters in the Digital Age” by Laird Borrelli-Persson, for Vogue.com

4 responses to “A commentary on Yoshitaka Amano and fashion”

  1. […] “Fashion, and the Garden of Amano” for Windhill Journal […]


  2. […] “A commentary on Yoshitaka Amano and fashion” for Windhill Journal […]


  3. […] “A commentary on Yoshitaka Amano and fashion” for Windhill Journal […]


  4. […] The intersection of videogames and fashion is a quiet spellcraft, unsullied by the bombast of the toxicity of videogame journalism and fandom rhetoric. It’s a stylish road to take, traversed mostly by videogame girls and gays looking to dream up their favourite characters like dolls. Yoshitaka Amano, a forefather of the Final Fantasy lore, draws much of inspiration from fashion magazines and runway, as explored in a previous post. […]


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