Enlightened traditions

The changing face of Roppongi — from sleaze capital to cultural center — continues with the opening of Shikunshi, a brand new gallery and contemporary kimono shop.

Tucked behind Roppongi Hills, the stunning multipurpose space is both tranquil in tone and accessible to art lovers and design devotees alike.

The eclectic art collective Enlightenment, who are currently showing at Mori Art Museum’s “Roppongi Crossing 2007” exhibition, are the first to appear in the gallery space, presenting a specially designed Shikunshi logo, shop cards, paper bags and more. The quirky Japanese quartet’s love of genre hopping, which explores film and visual designs, continues in the curiously stylish collaboration.

The kimono on display update notions of traditional design and feature cute animal motifs as well as unusual accessories and adornments. This is all done under the watchful and discerning eye of top stylist Mariko Enami (center in the photo to the right), who also oversees a select shop in the space.

In the coming months look out for new designs of the traditional Japanese wrapping cloths called furoshiki and classes on coordinating kimono patterns and accessories, in addition to more photography and art exhibitions. The Enlightenment show will run till Dec. 25. (Paul McInnes)

5-10-25 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo; (03) 5414 2951; www.shikunshi.com/

Couture in the shop

Haute couture has always been a mystery to most people. With fantastical clothing that is usually deemed to be unwearable — and sky-high price tags to match — such a sense of the unreachable builds allure and buzz needed for a brand, even as it may alienate regular folk.

The English ringmaster of the exquisite art form, John Galliano of the Christian Dior label, is giving anyone with a bit of curiosity a chance to see for themselves what Dior’s couture is all about in a 23-piece exhibit at their flagship store in Tokyo’s Omotesando district. Running through Dec. 26, the event is twofold: it celebrates Christian Dior’s 60th anniversary as a fashion house and Galliano’s 10th year at the helm.

The exhibition presents the critically acclaimed 2007 Spring/Summer Japan-inspired collection, that’s aptly titled “Japonism,” in which Galliano uses a plethora of Japanese craft techniques to produce unusual dresses. Hand-painted ukiyo-e (genre painting) scenes grace oversize ball gowns while bamboo and ikebana flower arrangements decorate larger-than-life head pieces, and giant origami lilies and cranes form the bodices, jackets and skirts of the best pieces.

While Japanese-inspired Western ideas of dress are nothing new, Galliano’s brilliance dreams up pieces that demand appreciation for both the hundreds of man-hours put into each one and the thousands of sequins employed in their dazzling designs. As if Pavarotti were giving a complimentary street performance, this opportunity to see haute couture up close is an experience not to be missed. (Misha Janette)

5-9-11 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; (03) 5464-6220; free

Couture with a pop

Swarovski cubes and a butterfly perched on a patch of grass adorn a round cap from accessories brand Yoshiko Creation’s new Spring/Summer 2008 collection. Picking it up, the butterfly’s wings flutter realistically as if it were about to fly away.

This is what haute-couture trained designer Yoshiko Kajitani calls “pop-couture” — a mix of wearable items with a dash of avant-garde flair and detail. Her pieces include metal skulls presented as delicate lacelike doilies, gold and silver bracelets with rose thorns, and pendants of bird talons in a menacing grip on unrealistically large faux pearls.

Kajitani’s jewelry strays into quirkiness without ever becoming pretentious. She began in 1999 with a small collection for the hot Parisian boutique Colette, and has since created a new one to show in Paris every season. Now, after being the fashion insiders’ little secret for so many seasons, the brand has expanded, with more than 30 locations worldwide, including at the Hotel Ritz Paris. Her latest (and past) work can currently be seen at the temporary shop Yoshiko Creation in the entrance of La Foret in Harajuku, Tokyo.

Through Dec. 30, items will be rotated every week with a selection from the archives; her first ever piece sold at Colette, the Happiness Necklace, has been brought back in a new series, with a portion of proceeds from the item going to Save the Children Japan. (Misha Janette)

1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku Tokyo; (03) 5545-1028

The Pampered man

If you have been having too many bad hair days of late, or the dip in temperature is playing havoc with your scalp, then some refreshing help may be on hand. Aveda, the international beauty specialists, have recently announced the launch of a new hair-care line for men. The diverse range “Aveda Men Pure-Formance” includes everything from shampoo and conditioner to “Grooming Mat Wax” and “Grooming Cream” — welcome additions to the bathroom of any man who appreciates such luxuries.

The line’s signature photo-active “blend,” developed by renowned aromaologist Pierre Franchomme, is formulated using ingredients such as the anti-inflammatory boswellia and licorice root, which promise to soothe and relieve your scalp. Moreover, the “functional aroma” works wonders on your head as well as having a pleasant fragrance. The natural ingredients compliment an ecofriendly package design that makes use of various recycled materials.

The Pure-Formance range is just the tonic if you want to revitalize your hair and remain true to your environmental roots. And if you can’t wait till the February release date, then pamper yourself with a visit to the Aveda Lifestyle Salon & Spa in Minami-Aoyama, Tokyo, and get yourself suitably preened for the onslaught of Christmas and New Year Parties. (Paul McInnes)

5-5-21 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-Ku, Tokyo; (03) 5468-5550; www.aveda.co.jp


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