A model on the Yohji Yamamoto AW03 catwalk
A model on the Yohji Yamamoto AW03 catwalk Photograph: Sipa Press/REX Shutterstock/Sipa Press/REX Shutterstock

With Savage Beauty’s run at the V&A finishing, the buzz of fashion exhibitions turns to a much smaller venue in Hackney. The Live Archives, a tiny enterprise set up by collector Hoana Poland, is the home of Yohji Yamamoto: Showspace, a “live” exhibition of the Japanese designer’s work. For nine days from 31 July, visitors will watch as women try on Yamamoto’s clothes while Exhibition Maker Jeffrey Horsley talks through the history of an outfit. It’s a long way from looking at static clothes on a mannequin.

A model on the AW1 Yohji Yamamoto catwalk
A model on the AW1 Yohji Yamamoto catwalk Photograph: SIPA/REX Shutterstock/SIPA/REX Shutterstock

Horsley says the idea came from Yamamoto’s very vocal dislike of fashion exhibitions. “There’s a brilliant challenge there, as an exhibition maker,” he says. “What can I do to change that?” The germ of the idea came from a previous Yamamoto exhibition in Antwerp in 2006, where visitors could try on 20 garments. “That caused a fuss in the exhibition community,” he says. “I saw that show and thought it could go a step further.”

A model from the Yohji Yamamoto archive
A model from the Yohji Yamamoto archive Photograph: James Ari King/Yohji Yamamoto

The live approach is inspired in part by Yamamoto’s unusual – for fashion, anyway – ideal woman. “It’s not a skinny, tall 16-year-old,” says Horsley. “He has a woman in his head when he’s designing: middle-aged, intelligent, who is refusing to wear his clothes.” While the six women modelling here are happily wearing the designs, they go across age ranges and ethnicity. With 60 pieces in the show, they will be wearing different pieces over the run and visitors will also have the rare opportunity to try on the clothes too. “These are museum-level pieces,” says Horsley. “The oldest is from the spring/summer 1983 collection.”

A model on the Yohji Yamamoto catwalk in 1994
A model on the Yohji Yamamoto catwalk in 1994 Photograph: PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images

The Live Archives’ innovation in exhibitions is set to continue too. There are 3,500 items in the collection, and Horsley has “free reign” to experiment with how to exhibit them. His next show is already lined up – themed around glamour and opening in October. “It’s away from the red carpet to the idea of magic which is the original definition,” he says. “It will have the format of a magazine editorial.” Sounds suitably innovative to us.