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Helmut Lang, Black Label and more

by Misha Janette

Stepping into the Lang

Helmut Lang sold his remaining stake in the brand that bore his name to majority stakeholder Prada Group in 2004, after leaving his mark as a one of the defining contributors to the minimalist movement of the late 1980s and ’90s, as well as the inventor of the “couture-priced tank top.” Last year, Prada Group sold the label on to Tokyo-based Link Theory Japan, who wasted no time in appointing husband-and-wife design team Michael and Nicole Colovos (of Habitual denim-label fame) as the new creative custodians of the Lang name. The New York-based couple appear to have taken to this experiment by echoing Lang’s stark design ethos — the new store that opened last month on Kotto-Dori in Aoyama also reflects this vibe. The interior features walls of unfinished sheetrock and concrete with the only interruption a jungle-gymlike series of steel bars serving as racks that display the clean lines, sharp shapes and high-tech fabrics of the latest men’s and women’s collections. There is little in the way of color, except in accents of vivid yellow and green, and, most notably, that infamous tank top in a shocking electric blue. While devoted Lang fans may have mixed feelings about the reinterpretations of their preferred clothier’s oeuvre, many will no doubt appreciate the well-cut jackets that will set you back approximately what one of those tank tops would have when the brand’s original instigator was still at the helm.

5-13-2 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku 1F; 03-6419-8144; www.helmutlang.com

Sickeningly stylish

Following on from his anatomically inspired line of sneakers for German footwear brand Puma, fashion visionary Alexander McQueen has made a similarly disquieting statement with his recent collaboration with luggage giant Samsonite.

Launched under the brand’s Black Label moniker, ergonomically formed black crocodile skin bags are juxtaposed with a chalky-white upright creation sculpted in the likeness of a human sternum. The drastic shapes of this sickeningly chic five-piece collection are complemented with soft, feather-print lining and platinum trim. Considering the looks one of these beauties is guaranteed to get at the airline check-in counter, the price tag doesn’t seem unreasonable: the hard-shell upright will only set you back 134,400 yen, a large boarding bag 115,500 yen, and croc-leather passport holder 21,000 yen. The collaboration is set to continue in the fall with new colors whispered to be in the works.

8-6-3 Ginza, Chuo-ku Tokyo; 03-3571-8151; www.samsoniteblacklabel.com

Trafficking in the eccentric

Established in Melbourne, Australia in 2000, streetwear brand Perks and Mini (abbreviated as PAM) is the brainchild of former graffiti artist Misha Hollenbach (Perks) and fashion-design graduate Shaune Tooney (Mini). The eccentric duo now bring their visions of “Forever Never Land” to Tokyo with a store that opened in Parco 2, Shibuya, on March 1. PAM began as an outlet for their T-shirt designs, but has blossomed into a broad range of collaborative goods that span from clothes and accessories to books, films, toys and art pieces. The brand has a serious ubercoolness thing going, as the roster of top generation-now artists with whom they have undertaken joint ventures attests. Besides graphic tees depicting pyramids emitting radio waves — inspired by the surreal images of Magritte — the treasures to be found in the PAM store include a necklace made of real human hair by occult artist Julia Deville, and a large, blue furry toy from Mike Kelley called “Little Friend” that electro-sputters cute gems like “Do you really love me?” and “You’re stinky!” The must-have item, though, is the limited-edition tote bag made to commemorate the store’s March 1 opening, promoted in conjunction with Parisian megaboutique Colette and street-style Web ‘zine Honeyee (www.honeyee.com).

Parco 2, Shibuya, B1F; 03-5728-7072

Y is for simple living

If you are looking to smarten up and add some serious style to your living space this spring/summer, then the godfather of Japanese fashion, Yohji Yamamoto, has help on hand. His chic and simple home line Y’s for Living stands in stark contrast to his avant-garde, philosophical approach to fashion design. Y’s offers an unpretentious take on Scandinavian domestic style with an often monochrome appearance.

The recent addition of English listings on the Y’s Web site and catalog is welcome news for the discerning expatriate, interior fanatic. Beautiful, quirky vases and eco-friendly linen towels are just some of the things on offer in this treasure chest of home wear and furnishings. This all ties in nicely with the brand’s annual linen fair, which offers sumptuous selection of bed covers in fine Italian linens, among other items.

Also available in the store are a range of limited-edition furniture, charming handmade cups from Swedish designer Agneta Livijn, perennially popular bath towels and adorable umbrella and rain-print cotton T-shirts perfect for the summer. (Paul McInnes)

1F Hiroo SK Bldg, 2-36-13 Ebisu, Tokyo; tel: (03) 5795-1520; www.ysforliving.co.jp