Internationally known fashion model and actress Sayoko Yamaguchi died of acute pneumonia last Tuesday, her promotion office said Monday. She was 57.
Yamaguchi, a native of Yokohama and a graduate of Sugino Gakuen’s Dressmaker Gakuin design school in Tokyo, debuted as a professional model in 1971 and took to the catwalk in international fashion shows in Paris and New York mainly in the 1970s.
She appeared in fashion shows by Japanese designers Kenzo Takada and Kansai Yamamoto, her bobbed hair and long narrow eyes appealing to many Westerners as symbolic of Asian charm.
She was once selected by the U.S. magazine Newsweek as one of the world’s six top fashion models.
“She wore costumes designed by us Japanese designers who challenged the world in the 1970s and expressed our passion,” designer Yamamoto said. “She was not simply a model but was herself a person of expression, and I believe she was the first person who made people around the world feel that Japanese women are beautiful.”