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Return of Yohji, AMBUSH bling, LIMI feu bargains and Tokyo Girls

by Paul Mcinnes and Misha Janette

Coming back in style

After an absence of nearly 20 years, the godfather of Japanese fashion, Yohji Yamamoto, returned to Tokyo for a well-deserved hero’s welcome. Yamamoto, who arguably has been one of the biggest style influences in Japan and abroad since making his Paris debut in the early 1980s, chose Yoyogi National Stadium for his anticipated reappearance.

Over 3,000 people filled the arena and the spectacle (“fashion show” doesn’t really do it justice) included local jazz favorites Peace-K and celebrity models, such as singer Monsieur Kamayatsu, former national soccer coach Philippe Troussier and writer Makoto Shiina.

It’s been a tough few years for Yamamoto. His company’s very public bankruptcy and the subsequent streamlining of his business empire, including the integration of popular line Y’s into the main Yohji Yamamoto Homme, meant hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The collection on show, however, was a stylish statement of intent.

Yamamoto is renowned for his relaxed and casual silhouette, and the suits, mostly in black, were classic pieces from his repertoire. Some new camouflage suits and pops of color were tailored for his more youthful disciples but the occasion was basically a triumphant tribute to the great man himself. (Paul McInnes)

5-3-6 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku; (03) 3409 6006; www.yohjiyamamoto.co.jp

AMBUSHed!

Hip-hop jewelry brand AMBUSH is what you get when dripping excess meets quirky Japanese design, and is the brainchild of VERBAL (of m-flo and Teriyaki Boyz fame), and his wife YOON (DJ, stylist and PR rep of Pharrel Williams’ Billionaire Boys Club brand). The couple’s circle of friends includes others in the upper crust of urban culture, such as NIGO of A Bathing Ape, with whom they have collaborated on a range of neon necklaces and monkey rings. Other pieces in the line include gold pendants of King Tut sporting sunglasses and barbell-shaped rings with buggy eyeballs.

At an exhibition during last month’s Japan Fashion Week, VERBAL said: “I’ve had a few pieces made by Jacob (the American go-to jeweler for the rich hip-hop set), but I find the artisans in Japan have such an incredible eye for detail. So, I’ve chosen to have all my pieces made locally.” The luxury line, Antonio Murphy and Astro, tests and proves these artisans’ skills with giant pendants of Beethoven busts and a Glico-like running man encrusted in diamonds and jewels. (M.J.)

www.ambushdesign.com

Unlimited bargains from LIMI feu

At the end of March, Tokyo’s LIMI feu Daikanyama was converted into an outlet shop, selling items from past seasons (such as this look pictured from 2008) at 30-70 percent of their original prices. Named Unlimited by LIMI feu, the store offers pieces from the main line as well as Prankster, the children’s line established in 2006.

LIMI feu is headed by Limi Yamamoto, the progeny of that other famous Yamamoto: Yohji. She started out designing for her father’s Y’s label before launching LIMI feu in 2002. In 2007, she left Tokyo for Paris, though she sporadically holds shows in Tokyo for her diffusion line TRACE. She has garnered a mass global following for her clothing that melds her father’s unstructured shapes with a punkish, street-wear vibe. Often playing with oversize shapes, LIMI feu rarely strays outside a monotone color palette with an aesthetic similar to what brought Japanese design to fame in the 1980s.

Considering her aesthetic doesn’t change much from season to season, the new shop is certainly a boon for fans. The item lineup also changes every month and a DVD gift is given to those who spend over ¥31,500. (M.J.)

7-4 Daikanyama-cho, Shibuya-ku; 03-3463-6324; www.limifeu.com

Comme concept

With two recent Tokyo concept stores and exclusive The Beatles and Moncler collaboration products, Comme des Garcons seems to be single-handedly keeping the local high-end market exciting and relevant.

The Trading Museum by Comme des Garcons opened in the Gyre building in Omotesando, Tokyo, last November and displays goods from other artists and designers selected by Comme designer Rei Kawakubo herself. It also is home to a line of black and apple-green bags, made with the blessing of Apple Corps. Ltd., the agency for The Beatles’ legacy.

In its dedicated experimental space along Kotto-dori, Comme des Garcons also opened its Moncler 365 shop on March 25. Limited to a one year run, it houses collaboration goods with the “puff” jacket brand, whose own recent track record for tapping unique design houses has been well-documented in this column. The new collection of jackets available in-store includes one with plaid patchwork pockets and another smattered with the signature Comme des Garcons polka dots. The latter costs about ¥114,000 and though designed for men, it has a slim cut that easily fits women too. (M.J.)

5-12-3 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku; 03-5468-8301

Tokyo Girls Collection a must-see tourist attraction?

Imagine a stadium full of screaming girls and young women, all with perfectly manicured Swarovski-encrusted nails, precision-applied makeup and more pink-colored accessories than one should have to witness in an entire lifetime.

This is the infamous Shibuya gyaru (“gal”) fashion convention — the Tokyo Girls Collection. And this season the event grew to proportions bigger than ever before.

Last month, TGC was moved to Yokohama Stadium for its 10th show, which was sold-out to a crowd of about 25,000. Interestingly, the underlying goal of TGC is: “To promote Japanese fashion around the world.” But that has become rather difficult when tickets are snatched up by the Japanese audience in a matter of minutes after going on sale. So, TGC has now collaborated with travel company JTB and set aside tickets specifically for non-Japanese, who can reserve them on JTB’s English Sunrise Tours Web site.

Those who took advantage of the offer last month were treated to over eight hours of fashion shows that featured massively popular Japanese models such as Karina, Yu Yamada and Rinka, as well as performances by pop stars such as Miliya Katoh. This event has become the face of the Tokyo-born gyaru movement and dare I say experiencing it could be right up there with other Tokyo must-sees, such as Tsukiji fish market and Meiji Shrine. (M.J.)

For more information on TGC, visit gw.tv/tgc/10SS/whats—en/index.html For tour information, visit www.jtb-sunrisetours.jp