|

Stella McCartney, Anna Antoniades and more

by Paul Mcinnes and Misha Janette

Anna Antoniades in Nakameguro

As British designer Anna Antoniades gives a tour around Tokyo’s ubercool Nakameguro, where she lives, she’s obviously in her element. The Bohemian cafes, the boutiques clustered around Meguro River and the idiosyncratic milieu of the area reflects the aesthetic that she applies to her charming one-of-a-kind handmade garments.

A graduate of Goldsmiths College, London, Antoniades designs dramatic clothes with excess folds, pleats and drapes, all done in natural fabrics, and it is clear that her father’s Greek background has had some bearing on her fashion ideology: Her architectural — almost theatrical — designs play around with the notion of how the body, space and form interrelate. When you see the capes and delicate tops with hidden pockets you can understand why her clothes are gradually developing her fan base in Japan.

With an installation of patterns at Ebisu Park Cafe till March 15 and other upcoming projects, she is reaping the rewards of a determination to become a successful designer in the Tokyo scene. (Paul McInnes)

Available from Monde Garage: 301 Castle-Mansion-Aobadai, 1-3-6 Aobadai, Meguro-ku Tokyo 153-0042; (03) 3715-6233; www.annaantoniades.com

The masses’ runway

Despite all the fashion information available online, honest-to-God fashion shows are still mostly the realm of industry insiders. But now, thanks to Tokyo Runway, real-time fashion voyeurism is accessible to the masses.

Part of the opening of Akasaka Sacas, TV station TBS Studios’ new culture and entertainment venue, 10 brands will each stage a fashion show of looks from their Spring/Summer collection at the March 23 event. But you won’t have to wait to get your mitts on these items — if you like what you see, you can immediately purchase it online or at the individual brand’s real world shops.

Familiar faces such as supermodel Ai Tominaga, a mainstay of Paris shows (returning to a Japanese runway after more than 4 1/2 years), and Anne Watanabe (daughter of actor Ken Watanabe), Elle 2007 Model of the Year, will be strutting the catwalk. Brands participating include the massively popular Double Standard Clothing and Fashion Week favorite Dresscamp.

More than 3,000 attendees are expected, with tickets being given away by a draw on the official Web site. There’s a cap on entries, so if your fashion bone is tickled pink, be sure to relieve it by entering quickly. (Misha Janette)

Akasaka Sacas, 5-3-6 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo; (03) 5562-1620; www.tokyo-runway.com

Stella in Ginza

Stella McCartney, the daughter of Beatle Paul McCartney, initially struggled to solidify her own name as a talented designer independent from the fame of her father. And she has succeeded grandly — a graduate of the prestigious arts school Central St. Martin’s in London, McCartney had only two seasons under her belt before being appointed the head creative director of Parisian brand Chloe. Quickly gaining recognition for her skill in bringing sharp tailoring to ultra-feminine designs, she began her own Stella McCartney label under the Gucci Group in 2001.

In February of this year, McCartney opened her first shop in Japan, on the fourth floor of the Matsuya department store in Ginza. The Matsuya Ginza shop will carry her ready-to-wear collection as well as accessories, bags, eyewear, Stella perfume and a skincare line. The spring/summer collection is a continuation of the style for which the designer is known: airy pieces in silk voile and cotton with wildflower prints in feminine pale pinks, blues and creams.

McCartney is a vegan and is famous for public outcries over the use of fur and leather. She uses top-notch synthetic materials instead, and beauty products are made of organic ingredients not on any endangered lists.

Though some believe Japan’s high-end market is lagging behind, Stella McCartney president Marco Bizzarri insists there’s still room for growth. “We are a new brand in the growing stage of our life cycle, and we see Japan as an opportunity,” he says, suggesting the possibility of more stores opening in the near future. (Misha Janette)

3-6-1 Ginza 4F, Chuo-ku, Tokyo; (03) 3567-3477

Maddalena Sisto’s cheeky show

Though trained as an architect, Italian Maddalena Sisto (1951-2000), or “MAD,” as she signed her name, spent her life taking humorous jabs at the fashion and design industries in illustrations in Vogue, Vanity, The New Yorker, Marie Elle Decor and Claire, to name just a few.

Now you can see her work at Shiodome Italia Creative Center, which is currently presenting “MAD’s Land — Italian Design, Fashion and Lifestyle in Maddalena Sisto’s Drawings,” a retrospective first exhibited at the Milan Triennale.

Many of the watercolors come from Sisto’s column for Elle Decor magazine, and the rooms they portray are peopled by mutations of trendy interior items from designers such as Philippe Starck and brands such as Alessi.

Her “ladies,” as she affectionately called the spindly creatures in the illustrations, are caricatures of women’s virtues and fashion’s vices — their devotion to its trends is equally balanced by their misgivings about its follies. Slightly aloof with expressive faces, they are the type of girls who nonchalantly answers a question with another one, all the while posing in outlandish gowns and impossibly high-heeled shoes. (Misha Janette)

“MAD’s Land” is at Shiodome Italia Creative Center (2F 2-14-1 Higashi-shimbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo) till May 25; (03) 3432-6263; www.madsisto.it

Common Projects’ sneaker love

Not everyone knows what it’s like to fall in love with a pair of sneakers. But even the most cynical fashion journalist would find it hard to deny that shoe designers Common Projects make the kind of sleek and simple footwear that’s fit for kings.

Common’s collection for Spring/Summer ’08 is inspired by early editions of the cult skateboarding magazine Thrasher and comes in three styles: the rubber capped shell-toe, the court shoe for tennis and other sports and and desert boot (pictured left). The sporty collection remains casual but elegant and complements both jeans and more formal attire.

Using only the best Italian leather, suede and waxed canvas, all Common Projects’ sneakers come with a signature golden number stamped on the heels. Since 2004, Prathan Poopat and Flavio Girolami, the team behind the label, have made minimalist footwear that has sent sneaker freaks, fashion editors and other cognoscente into repeated commercial bliss.

This season also sees the debut of their jazzy reinvention of traditional Oxford dress shoes — which can be worn with or without laces — and basic dress shoes made from unorthodox materials, proving that, in fact, there is nothing at all common about Common Projects. (Paul McInnes)

Available from American Rag Cie, 1-5-4 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; (03) 5459-7300; www.commonprojects.com