Pearls of fashion win a Guinness World Record

Bridalwear designer Yumi Katsura is known for her fantastical couture creations, and now she’s got some extra cachet thanks to a Guinness World Record that comes with quite some luster.

Last year, Katsura created a gown embellished with 13,262 pearls, now recognized as the largest number ever to decorate a single dress. Adding to its decadence is the fact that all the pearls come from luxury brand Mikimoto, and they’ve used some hugely opulent specimens. There are five pearls a whopping 10 mm in diameter, the largest size that can be naturally grown in the waters surrounding Japan.

Embroidered by hand into a floral lace pattern, the pearls made the dress the showstopper of Katsura’s show held last February. (M.J.)

Yumi Katsura: www.yumikatsura.com

Gundam targets the mainstream

The Mobile Suit Gundam-themed menswear label STRICT-G from Bandai has expanded beyond its initial outposts in Odaiba’s Tokyo Diver City Plaza and Shizuoka’s NEOPASA to Kanagawa for a limited shop that will run until Sept. 1.

Joining the existing lineup of robot-inspired suits, shirts and sundries will be items exclusive to the temporary store. These include T-shirts produced by “MANGART BEAMS T,” a BEAMS-led project that unites anime and manga with the fashion brand.

A perfect example of Cool Japan, the Japanese government’s exercise in soft power, STRICT-G has not only successfully melded pop-culture with fashion in a credible way, but it has also managed to bring the world of Gundam to an audience that might have been otherwise put off by its somewhat geeky provenance. (S.T.)

EXPASA Ebina STRICT-G Booth: 2F Oyama-Minami 5-1-1, Ebina, Kanagawa; 070-6948-7750. Open June 29-Sept. 1.

From all over Japan to the center of Tokyo

Promoting Japanese crafts and products made in far-flung countryside locales seems to be quite the thing these days.

Rooms Jibasan, a popup souvenir and gift shop in the basement of Shinjuku Station’s Lumine Est shopping mall, is showcasing all manner of colorful doohickies and doodads from all over country. As part of the mall’s Koko Lumine “made in Japan” project, most of the goods are hand-crafted by artisans and come with a little traditional background or story. Take the maneki-neko, a waving cat ornament that is traditionally thought to bring good luck: Here, it’s been given a cheeky upgrade with fruit-themed costumes and there is even one version that is in fact a bottle of ramune soda. There are also colorful wind chimes and teruteru-bozu (little charms to ward off the rain).

Fashion items include brooches, scarves and necklaces and the shop is set up to resemble a convenience store, making it very tempting to fill a basket with a variety of goods. You’ll find Rooms Jibasan right outside of the JR central ticket gates as part of Lumine Est, and it’s open until Aug. 4. (M.J.)


Snapping the city’s street culture

Japanese Streets is not only the first English-language website to cover Japanese street fashion, but it’s also one of the first Japan-based fashion blogs in existence. To mark more than a decade of bringing the streets of Tokyo to the world’s attention, owner and photographer of the site Kjeld Duits invited a number of his favorite street-fashion icons to a pop-up studio at the Design Festa Gallery in the heart of Harajuku.

Kjeld highlighted the importance of bringing the street back to the studio: “Shooting someone on the street is like shooting a mannequin, you don’t understand them as a person,” he said. “I asked people to bring something to the shoot that they thought represented what was important and inspiring in fashion — Japanese blogger ICCHO brought his mother!”

The fruits of his labor can now be seen on the website and include shots of fashionable members of the public who happened to pass by. (S.T.)


Making patterns to launching designers

Soen is Japan’s oldest fashion magazine. For 77 years it’s been presenting Western fashion for the Japanese public to drool over and dream about. Much like Vogue, it began as a book of patterns translating haute-couture dresses into garments regular folk could sew. It became a leader of fashion in the 1950s with the advent of the Soen Awards, a competition to find Japan’s brightest new designers.

Through September, Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum is hosting a comprehensive exhibition featuring those winning designs, many of which helped their creators achieve fame and glory. For example, Yohji Yamamoto’s beige retro-futuristic mini dress from 1969 and Takada Kenzo’s 1961 striking modern skirt ensemble. All the Soen covers from its first 1936 issue are also on display in this sweeping look at how Japan has been influenced by and translated Western fashion. “Soen and Soen Fashion Award” runs till Sept. 28 and admission is ¥500. (M.J.)

Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum, 3-22-7 Yoyogi, Shibuya, Tokyo; 03-3299-2387; www.bunka.ac.jp/museum/hakubutsu.htm

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