A toast to Marc Jacobs, Pierre Cardin, Issey Miyake, Diesel


Jacobs Tokyo flagship: great styling, inside and out

The opening of the new Marc Jacobs’ Tokyo flagship may have been on hold for several years, but it’s finally come through with enough buzz to put a bee to shame.

With the new location in Minami-Aoyama, the shop is housed in an American Institute of Architects award-winning building that at night resembles a glowing lantern. Inside, displays pay homage to American designer Marc Jacobs’ slapstick-glam aesthetic — giant tropical fish tanks line the staircase, and a wall showing off “Bang,” his new men’s fragrance, reveals a coy and naked Jacobs cuddling the perfume bottle. There are three floors — menswear in a cozy space in the basement, accessories on the main floor and womenswear rounding it out on the second floor.

Jacobs is a notorious multitasker, designing for Marc by Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton on top of his namesake line, so he was too busy to make the opening. But in his stead, super celebrities such as TV personality Junichi Ishida and model Rinka (pictured) graced the opening ceremony on Dec. 2.

Rinka’s elegant nude image features on a Marc Jacobs’ charity T-shirt being sold to benefit skin-cancer awareness, making her the first Asian to join other stars who appear on the shirts, such as Victoria Beckham, Naomi Campbell and Julianne Moore. Word is the shirts will sell out fast, but if you have ¥6,300 burning a hole in your pocket, you may still have a chance to get one in the new store.

Marc Jacobs, 5-3-27 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku; Tel: (03) 6418-1188; www.marcjacobs.com

Sixty years of Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin is more often associated with “retro” geometric designs of the 1960s than his role in shaping the business of fashion today. But in his heyday, his work was considered to be some of the most futuristic of the time. Last month, Cardin visited Tokyo to mark the 60th anniversary of his brand — a reminder that modern fashion has, in fact, a remarkably short history.

Cardin first came to Tokyo in 1958, when he introduced the patternmaking technique known as draping. The response to the technique was so positive that Cardin stayed for a month, teaching seminars to numerous pupils, who included future fashion luminaries Hanae Mori and Kenzo Takada. It was around that time he met his longtime muse, fashion model Hiroko Matsumoto, who he invited to France in 1960, making her the first Japanese model to walk in the Paris collections. He also inked a licensing deal with the department store Takashimaya, which led to Pierre Cardin becoming the first Western brand to be manufactured and designed specifically for the Japanese market.

Now with 800 licenses in more than 110 countries, Cardin is involved in virtually everything from clothing and furniture to airplanes and hotels. And at the age of 88, he is still looking to expand his legacy: “I am always looking ahead, looking to the moon, designing for tomorrow. Now I am thinking of building a hotel for the future. I would build it in Japan, too,” he said. “Does anyone know any investors?”


Miyake’s sustainable style agenda

First Issey Miyake’s innovative mind brought us Pleats Please. Then there was A-POC, seamless clothing made from a single tubular piece of cloth. Next up is 132 5.: a set of highly structured garments that come folded like origami. More than just fashion, the new line is also sustainable, created in collaboration with Teijin Ltd., whose recycled-PET-bottle fabrics use 80 percent less energy.

“132 5.” alludes to 1 piece of cloth, its 3-D form as clothing, its 2-D form when folded and the 5th dimension, or the future. Cerebral in concept but completely wearable, the clothes’ jutting shapes and impossibly feather-light weight is testament to how technology is helping fashion evolve for our benefit.

In a statement about the line, Miyake said, “I feel it is urgently necessary to train people who are capable of tackling the various problems we face today, in regards to environmental turmoil and the relevancy of clothing.” 132 5. comes from Issey Miyake’s Reality Lab, a research team of eight members, including mathematician Jun Mitani whose 3-D origami renderings inspired Miyake to apply the same concept to fashion.

Priced at ¥29,400 for shirts to ¥89,250 for dresses, 132 5. pieces are available at the Yoshioka Tokujin-designed flagship boutique in Aoyama. More extravagant, abstract pieces showing the potential of the line are on display at 21—21 Design Sight in Tokyo Midtown as part of the Reality Lab exhibition that runs till Dec. 26.

Issey Miyake, 5-3-10 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku; (03) 3499-6476; www.isseymiyake.co.jp; www.2121designsight.jp/en

Music to fashion ears

The Harajuku Performance in Laforet department store, the teen fashion mecca, is an annual yearend event that gives fashion fans the opportunity to wax lyrical about music, art, and performance. Spread over two days, the event brings together an eclectic group of performers.

Day one includes musician Hifana with artist Daito Manabe, who will play live music using a new type of instrument made from repurposed Nike shoes, and Open Reel Ensemble with the Braun Tube Project, whose analog-cum-digital musical chorus is created from converted TV sets and old tape reels.

For day two, visual and sound artist Ryoichi Kurokawa will show his electrifying audiovisual installation art, and fashion icon Maki Nomiya of Pizzicato 5 (pictured) will grace the stage with her smooth musical persuasion.

All artists use a mix of hi-fi digital and lo-fi analog media — a reflection of the fusion of high and low fashion that makes Harajuku what it is today.

“The Harajuku Performance” takes place on Dec. 22 and 23; tickets are ¥4,000 per day and available from Ticket Pia or e+. For information, visit www.laforet.ne.jp/event_art

Diesel fuels Japan’s love of casual fashion

Considering the recent poor economy in Japan, it was a surprise when Italian denim brand Diesel announced it would open an enormous first-of-its-kind concept store in Tokyo. But the sprawling two-story establishment is testament to the staying-power of fashion in this consumer-happy country. “Japan is absolutely our biggest market. It’s bigger than America and bigger than Italy. We aren’t growing like mad, of course, but our sales haven’t gone soft either. It’s been good,” said Diesel founder Renzo Rosso on a visit to open the Diesel Shibuya store in November.

Rosso explained that the Shibuya store is special, and he considers it to be one of the brand’s “most beautiful in the world.” It carries the main men’s and women’s casual denim lines and the brand’s high-end line Black Gold. It also has an interior goods section, a gallery and — a first for the brand — a cafe.

Every year, Diesel sponsors ITS, a young designers competition in Italy, and this year saw the first Japanese designer, Takashi Nishiyama, win the top position. “His clothes are so incredibly detailed, we couldn’t not give him the prize!” said Rosso.

Rosso’s affinity for the meticulous nature of Japanese design is palpable: “I love going into the supermarkets here to see the beautifully wrapped fruit and look at the pretty labels at the pharmacy. It makes me believe that Tokyo is the most fashionable city in the world.”

Diesel, 1-23-16 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku; (03) 6427-5955; www.diesel.com