Style & Design | ON: FASHION

Chanel's little black jacket

Since 1983, Karl Lagerfeld has steered Parisian brand Chanel as the world’s reigning barometer of chic. Now he’s about to bring a little bit of that haute charm to Tokyo with a series of events beginning on March 21.

First up is an exhibition of photographs depicting fashion and film luminaries sporting Chanel’s iconic black tweed jacket. The photos, which were taken by Lagerfeld, will be published this fall in the book “The Little Black Jacket: Chanel’s classic revisited” by Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld. This show is an exclusive sneak preview of some of the portraits, including those of Sarah Jessica Parker and Vanessa Paradis.

Chanel is also re-staging its 2012 spring/summer Paris haute couture show, which will include the original large-scale jumbo-jet set, on March 22. And last but not least, from March 23-April 15, the brand will open a temporary boutique with selections from their accessory and pret-a-porter fashion lines.

Chanel has a long history of links with Japan, culminating in 2004 with the Ginza flagship opening and the special “Coco a Tokyo” fashion show, where, in an unprecedented move, Chanel showed a collection outside of Paris first. That was the last time Lagerfeld was here, and his fans were so bold that the designer noted, “A Japanese woman pinched my (butt).” That, however, hasn’t dented his enthusiasm for the country, and this set of events has been scheduled in part to commemorate the events of March 11 last year. (Misha Janette)

“The Little Black Jacket” at G-Bldg, 5-4-48 Minami Aoyama, Tokyo, runs from March. 24-April 15; open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (Sat. and Sun. till 8 p.m.). Free admission. For more information, visit

Eiko Ishioka: A woman the worlds of fashion, design and film have much to thank for

In Japanese culture, presentation is everything: Form and color are precisely chosen and no detail is overlooked. It makes sense then, that one of the most celebrated art directors and costume designers of our time would be Japanese.

Eiko Ishioka was a legend in Hollywood, and her recent death from pancreatic cancer, at the age of 73, is a sad loss to the world of design, fashion and film.

In the late 1960s and during the ’70s, Ishioka was a well-respected art director and graphic designer in Japan, one who became famous for pushing the boundaries of societal norms. She is well known for her daring, conceptual advertising campaigns for the youth-oriented department store Parco as well as her revolutionary poster designs.

Her powerful portrayal of women and her eye for dramatic storytelling later brought her recognition as a costume designer, and she received two Emmy nominations in 1988 for the Broadway production of “M. Butterfly.” But it was Ishioka’s work on Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 film, “Bram Stroker’s Dracula,” that not only won her an Oscar, but also exposed Hollywood and the world to her remarkable surreal imagination.

She went on to work with Bjork, Grace Jones and the Cirque du Soleil — and even designed costumes for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She often collaborated with director Tarsem Singh, creating designs for films including “The Cell” and the soon-to-be-released Snow White adaptation “Mirror, Mirror.”

Japanese design and other Far East era influences often created a sense of exoticism in Ishioka’s work, and she always pushed her already larger-than-life designs to new heights. She died with two Oscars and a Grammy to her name, but there was no mention of her at this year’s “In Memoriam” at the Academy Awards: a sorry oversight, when there’s no doubt that Ishioka will live on eternally in the imaginations of legions of design and cinema fans all over the world.

Uniqlo x Undercover: making fashion run in the family

Even while maintaining the mantra, “We make noise not clothes,” designer Jun Takahashi and his iconic high-end streetwear brand Undercover have shot to fame, and onto the catwalks of Paris, with anarchic collections packed with punk references. Takahashi’s latest collaboration, however, is with his diametric opposite in the fashion world: Uniqlo.

Titled “Family,” the collaboration is a celebration of fashion classics, and the full spring/summer collection boasts more than 100 items for all members of a typical young family. This includes a range of babywear — a first ever for the Undercover brand.

Fans who have fond memories of Undercover’s days as a bastion of underground culture in the back streets of Harajuku may be surprised by this new direction, especially since Takahashi has been, in the past, quite vocal about his criticism of fast fashion. However, by dressing an idealistic family in Uniqlo basics yet maintaining his own rebellious twist, it could be argued that the designer has created his most subversive work to date.

This collaboration comes in the wake of his fourth season working with Nike on the sports line Gyakusou, and hot on the heels of Takahashi’s announcement that he will be designing sneakers for Takahiro Miyashita’s cult brand The Soloist for release in June. It would appear that collaborations are key to tempering the Undercover image to the varied global market that the brand now reaches.

The Uniqlo Undercover (UU) collection launches at the renewal opening of Tokyo’s Uniqlo Ginza flagship store on March 16, and will be available in 31 stores throughout Japan and at 11 international locations from March 17.

A second collection has also already been confirmed for the winter season this year. (Samuel Thomas)

Uniqlo Ginza: 6-9-5 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo; (03) 6252-5181;

Tokyo Fashion Week sets up shop in Takashimaya, Shinjuku

From March through June, the eighth floor of Takashimaya in Shinjuku will be home to some of the brightest young designers taking part in Tokyo Fashion Week. The project, organized by the Council of Fashion Designers (CFD), will see 18 new names in various fashion genres showcasing their work on a weekly rotational basis.

“With the current difficulties that designers come up against in securing spaces where they can sell, we are trying to find locations that offer significant opportunities to interact with consumers directly,” said CFD chairwomen Yoko Otsuka, commenting on the new space.

Taking full advantage of this — and the only designer to enjoy the space in its entirety until March 6 — was Olga, designer of Fashion Week-favorite Etw. Vonneguet.

Her spring/summer collection, which uses cutting-edge fabrics that react to UV light, as well as magnetic closures and digitally dyed materials, exemplifies the new wave of high-tech creativity coming from today’s young designers.

Olga actually donned a wig so that she could freely observe her customers unnoticed, and offered her first 50 buyers tickets to attend her show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo later this month. (S.T.)

Takashimaya Shinjuku 8F, 5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-8580; (03) 5361-1111;

Comme des Garcons’ Dover Street Market brings a little of London’s bazaar flair to Tokyo

Dover Street Market, the concept department store from cult-favorite Japanese brand Comme des Garcons, is re-opening in Ginza on March 16 after its original store on Kotto-dori in Minami Aoyama shuttered in 2010.

Dover Street Market was originally conceived in London as a space where Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons invited a number of other designers and artists to sell anything they pleased in the London store. The designers were allowed to cultivate their spaces and it became the place to shop for one-offs and special limited-edition items.

This new Tokyo space is in the Komatsu Building, a tower that will also house the world’s largest Uniqlo, which is opening on March 16 as well. Does this mean Garcons is going commercial? Not likely, judging by the wild goose chase that those who want more information will have to go on!

As most brands are keeping mum about their involvement, the only way to get some idea of what the store will hold is to visit individual designers’ blogs and piece together clues. We do know the names of the collaborators, which include Stephen Jones, Mastermind Japan, A Bathing Ape, Louis Vuitton and Peanuts (who have revealed a totally black range of toys and home-ware) and about 56 other prominent creators. We know, too, that the new Dover Street Market will house a Rose Bakery, an organic dining establishment from Paris that also has a branch in the Garcons Marunouchi store.

This is actually a lot of information for a concept from a designer who usually only offers about two keywords to describe her collections every season. The shop is sure to be a hit, though, especially since Comme des Garcons’ other large co-branding store, 10 Corso Como, was unceremoniously closed last month. (M.J.)

Dover Street Market, Tokyo: 6-9-5 Ginza, Chuo-ku; (03) 6228-5080;

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