Make Valentine’s Day a blast

In Japan, Valentine’s Day is when the women buy chocolates and gifts for the men in their lives, and the competition is fierce among chocolatiers vying to get their attention. For something a little different, though, you may want to look at how fashion brands are getting into the game.

Diesel is offering pairs of underpants stuffed inside dynamite-shaped canisters that come with a box of four skull-shaped chocolates. But beware! One of the chocolates contains chili powder — which explains why the gift set is called Love & Hate Dynamite.

If your guy doesn’t have a sweet tooth, Vivienne Westwood has also produced sets of his-and-hers underwear, both splattered with the brand’s logo in Valentine red, while Issey Miyake is bringing back its 0% cocoa — colorful socks wrapped to look like large bars of chocolate. There’s enough out there to make sure you leave a lasting, if not blasting impression. (M.J.)

www.diesel.co.jp; www.viviennewestwood-tokyo.com; www.isseymiyake.com

Ninagawa’s butterfly effect on Etro

Etro x Ninagawa

Paisley and butterflies are two iconic motifs that have always held their own in art and fashion, so bringing them together in an artist-brand collaboration is a no-brainer. Luxury Italian brand Etro, with its paisley print signature, and photographer-director Mika Ninagawa, a master of acid-color macro images of wildlife, have teamed up for a boho-floral collaboration of vibrant extremes.

Ninagawa updates Etro’s paisley by using photorealistic prints of the brands’ scarves, with superimposed images of butterflies and hearts. The pieces run the gamut from T-shirts and hats to leather goods such as wallets and pochettes, making a substantial 30-piece capsule collection that launches in Japan on Feb. 12 at Isetan on the first floor “Stage” area. (M.J.)

Isetan: 3-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. 03-3352-1111. www.etro.com

Sumo enters the fashion ring

sumo x Sasquatchfabrix

In a first for the Japanese fashion industry, cult label Sasquatchfabrix has collaborated with the sumo-training quarters Kokonoe-beya to create Kokonoe, a capsule collection that takes the Edo Period (1607-1868) bold spiderweb and cherry blossom print featured on the stable’s yukata (summer kimono) and applies it to a number of street-fashion staples. Original yukata made from the same textiles used by the stable, traditional Japanese socks and sumo-print T shirts are also available.

Sasquatchfabrix is known to assimilate traditionally masculine Japanese motifs into modern garments, and this collection of oversized aloha shirts and wide-legged shorts achieves a silhouette similar to yukata, while the folded clutches echo merchant wallets of the Edo Period.

The Kokonoe capsule collection goes on sale in May in selected shops with prices ranging from ¥6,000 to ¥46,000. (S.T.)


You won’t want to roll up these sleeves

The Common Sleeve project is taking the mix-and-match approach of Japanese street fashion to a logical conclusion with its collection of garments that allows wearers to swap sleeves using a standardized zip system. You can choose sleeves from specific designers’ work as well as from more than 30 collaborating brands. This means virtually endless combinations, but it also provides a snapshot of today’s Japanese fashion where high-end brands such as Hisui and Stof are united with disparate underground ones like Bodysong and Punk Drunkers.

For the current Common Sleeve “Past is Future” exhibition and pop-up shop at Pass the Baton, a recycling concept shop in Omotesando, designers were asked to reach into their archives and use prior seasons’ fabrics or designs for garments. Both the core garments and sleeves are sold separately, so you are almost guaranteed to walk away with a unique combination. (S.T.)

“Past is Future”: Omotesando Hills West B2F, Jingumae 4-12-10, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 03-6447-0707; commonsleeve.com

Kawaii goes Stateside

Kawaii (cute) fashion trailblazer Sebastian Masuda is making an international solo debut with an exhibition at Kianga Ellis Projects in New York. Thanks to his experience as the founder of his 6%Dokidoki fashion boutique, Masuda’s exhibition presents Harajuku’s culture and fashion from the perspective of an insider — one noteworthy piece depicts a bird’s eye view of Harajuku backstreets depicted in suitably cute sharp pinks and pastels.

For Masuda this is a brave step outside the Japanese-specific comfort zones of showing at cultural expos and his role as creative director for pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu — and it’s hoped that by removing kawaii culture from its subculture context, it will prove even more attractive to people overseas. (S.T.)

“Colorful Rebellion: Seventh Nightmare” at Kianga Ellis Projects, New York runs from Feb. 27 till March 29. www.kiangaellisprojects.com

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