Christian dada was the first official fall winter show of the tokyo fashion week season and it set a tone for excellence for the rest of the week.
As the recipient of the DHL designer award designer Morikawa was under pressure to produce something good; especially after taking a break last season and going in a casual direction. Which was a bit of a let down since Dada is tokyo’s answer to McQueen, to Pugh to Anderson and the other cerebral designers who fashion lovers yearn for in this age of “luxury tshirt brands”
But fears were alleviated just sitting down; a full chorus and orchestra-slash-rock band was waiting. 14 singers, 3 electric guitarists, a pianist, a percussionist, 2 drummers a bassist, and violinist. And one man with his hand over his heart. I kept waiting for this man to DO something but in the end, he just stood there. It’s like a movie that cuts off before it finishes…”is that it?? Something MUST happen right!?” but perhaps that is my anxiety taking over..
Luckily, the runway was so captivating I could ignore that guy. The black baroque embroidery that turned to gold, the rubber studs on tshirts and pocket clutches gripped my interest. These details alone made for a beautiful collection of elegance and rock, a pitch-perfect collection for today’s edgy consumer of high fashion.
And this is before we even get to their feet ! I heard that Osaka-based cobbler Masaya Kushino would be collaborating with dada and could hardly imagine what he would come up with, given his track record for artistic couture. This time he placed bird bodies–made from real crow feathers– on vertiginous platforms of fur. It was a miracle the models didn’t tumble, which may have been a grace of god; the theme for the shoes was “stairway to heaven” after all.
Dada said his theme was “Phoenix” the bird of rebirth. Dada is stepping out into the world and spreading his own feathered arms.
You know about the infamous O-parts, those odd ancient pieces that seem way too ahead of their time to be primitive, so therefore they might actually be from an alien civilization? Yeah, THOSE parts. I can’t help but think of mysterious objects and being “ahead of the times” when I see the works of Fangophilia (have I mentioned I love stories of alternative history and fringe theories? Those excite me just as much as rare brand collabs and fashion gossip). Taro Hanabusa doesn’t just create body parts from mannequins en masse, he uses molds to take an exact replica of YOU before fashioning the accessories out of silver in his Shinjuku atelier.
I went to see his exhibit going on now at the entrance to Kitakore in Koenji, and see if perhaps I could get a piece of my face plaster-molded for my own wearable O-part.
For the installation, Taro created his own display pieces of hands, faces, jaws and arms that were then decorated with the silver accessories. You’ll notice there are a lot of teeth here… actually, Taro himself is a practicing dentist (!!) who has his own clinic. “I go there two days a week, and then work on my brand the other days. If I was a dentist any more days of the week I`d never be able to finish orders.” It’s then that he takes his Frankenstein test-subjects…er….customers’ molds with the pink gummy “plaster” that dentists use. I remember getting my retainer made from this after my braces were taken off (they push it down your throat, so not a pleasant experience!).
I really wanted to get an ear made, so I took the opportunity to get it done while I was there. Hopefully it would be a better experience than the Orthodontic retainer!
First, we cleared off a display case at Garter, and Taro mixed the solution, taking less than 5 minutes. And it smelled like spearmint! With my head on that block, waiting for the goo to dry, I felt like it was a sacrificial ceremony…(insert joke about sacrificing all for fashion).
If you’re interested in getting fingers, teeth or another part done, Taro will be able to take your mold on Sat and Sun until the end of March at Kitakore. After that, he said he would even meet you anywhere to take your mold (it literally took less than 15 minutes). Check out the website for more.
To be a model, one is usually blessed with natural good looks (see the law of symmetry in attraction), a chameleon-like ability to transform according the theme of a fashion shoot, and they work on their craft full-time by getting into agencies and attending auditions left and right. There are high-fashion models in Japan for sure, but the domestic girls, usually of mixed Japanese and western ethinicty certainly get enough work to have lucrative careers.
“Doku” means “Reader” and “mo” stands for “model” so literally it means “reader model”. Now that makes them sound like girls who read books to children for charity or something, so I would translate it more like “street-style models” or “amateur models”. Basically, these girls get scouted on the streets by magazines for their street-style which will usually correspond to one of the popular subcultures that has a magazine dedicated to it. So KERA will look for Harajuku girls, Egg will search for Gyaru and Popteen will look for mini-idols. The girls are already secretly hoping to get their photos snapped for the street-style pages in their favorite magazines so they get all dolled up and hang out in Harajuku or Shibuya. After they’ve been snapped for a few issues by a magazine and proved they’ve got style, they might be asked to become a “dokumo” for that magazine and are invited to professional photoshoots to get pages dedicated to her style and makeup techniques.
If we were to compare it to a phenomenon in the west, it would basically be…BLOGGERS! Girls with awesome street-style becoming superstars, right? It’s especially interesting since there’s no phenomenon of bloggers becoming famous in Japan, since they just go straight to being dokumo instead (and all dokumo have diary-like blogs anyway).
I learned about this somewhat strange world of dokumo when on assignment with CNN a few years ago I was asked to follow a Koakuma-Ageha dokumo “Sayurin” on a photoshoot all day. I was shocked when I saw her bring her own suitcase of clothes, and she did her own makeup as an editor hovered like a helicopter just inches away. “What brand of eyeliner is that? How thick is that line? 2mm? Are you drawing it differently this month compared to last month?” So basically for “dokumo”-heavy magazines the girls themselves are filling the pages contents themselves!
DOKUMO are the subject of this weekend’s episode of Kawaii International on NHK and for an hour it follows the ins and outs what it takes to be one, why someone would want to be one (do they get paid? What’s the point?). So definitely check it out. Melody and I talked to 6 **VERY** different dokumo from different genres so its very fascinating (hime-gyaru, akiba-mix idol, gyaru, harajuku fairy, gyaru punk and japanese-gothic)
As for the phenomenon I don’t think it’s going away soon, despite the blog and digital revolution. Said a model friend of mine, “I feel like dokumo might be taking our jobs someday. Afterall, they don’t have to pay for stylists or makeup artists!”. Look out, world!
Two words: Bonzai Tree. Oh, two more: Omotesando Coffee. Reason enough to go have a chic-zen moment at the new Kitsune Cafe and boutiques that just opened today on Omotesando.
Photos by Mami Tanabe for TfD
“Kitsune” is a Japanese fox who in mythology is a trickster that can transform into many shapes. Kitsune then chose this as the name for their brand in 2002 because they encompass so many different arenas of creativity. Many of us probably learned of Kitsune through their music label and DJ performances, but Masaya Kuroki and Gildas Loaec also are the pioneers of the new Parisian Prepster style with their Maison Kitsune fashion label. It’s become so popular that it has its own flagship shop in Paris (check out my report from December when I visited here), New York, and now FINALLY Tokyo. We say “finally” because thees two best friends got the inspiration for and their career starts here in Tokyo. Now they are based in Paris though (and they are also now head designers of French brand Petit Bateau).
So I got to talk to the two guys again yesterday, after visiting the boutique (a huge, wide-open space) and then down the block is Cafe Kitsune which is totally awesome.
This of Japanese garden-meets-French-maison. The entrance is all bamboo like you’re going to a traditional Japanese restaurant, but then inside the wallpaper is a mix of POP-ified French and Japanese traditional motifs. The clothes sold here are a bit more casual and colorful street-style as well.
AND!!!…there’s a Bonsai Tree. “We have this specialist come in, and he takes care of it. It’s 50 years old, you know!” said Masaya to me, and I joked about their “Bonsai Babysitter”. But being so attentive to detail is what makes their brand and music so popular. Simple, but super high-quality. That’s their motto. Gildas and Masaya also told me that it was super hard to get the attention of the press in Paris, and they had no choice but to keep on doing their own thing because it didn’t matter anyway. “You know, to be a new or young brand in Paris is tough, because you’re competing with LVMH (Louis Vuitton etc) brands.”
Here at the cafe they are serving Omotesando Coffee which is this super buzzed-about tiny little coffee stand that was only supposed to be open for a short time but proved so popular it not only stayed open, but now it’s been hired by Kitsune! Aside from coffee there’s also the Omotesando Coffee little cube cakes which have been talked about all over the internet. And that’s all. Again, simple but super high quality.
It was a dark and rainy night in Paris…. isn’t it always! But all was to be for the better, and a little bit of rain is no match for a storm of editors, fans and friends from seeing the Limi Feu 2013 SS collection during Paris Fashion Week in October. It was my first visit to the collections during fashion week, and Limi Yamamoto was one designer I NEEDED to see. This season she eschewed the fashion show format for the first time since getting on the Paris FW schedule and instead opted for an intimate exhibition/presentation setting.
She and her diligent PR staff were all apologetic about it-and many fashion people are split as to which is a better way to present fashion collections (editors tend to favor intimate presentations while the media/consumers go for the OOMPH associated with a show) …but I think having an intimate setting in which for Limi to show her newest designs was in a way a step up from a show…next level, even. If an editor drops by an exhibit to actually sweep through an entire collection then I see it is highly likely they will remember the designs (it’s about touching; just like how you are more likely to purchase an item if you try an item on versus not).
The exhibit was held in a beautiful, large room with all of the pieces in view. People munched on desserts and sipped champagne while watching a few models mill about in outfits chosen by editors or buyers to try. I was able to try on a few pieces myself and walk the room….wobbling around in the too-large shoes. I am traditionally a heels-only girl but lately even the LF “boyish” flats and platforms are starting to look attractive.
Limi looked nervous as she answered interview questions, which is totally normal…if a designer ISN’T nervous then I will have doubts that they designed a single piece themselves. She’s very lucky because even though her father is Yohji Yamamoto and she often struggled to remove herself from that shadow while still having a natural inclination to his similar aesthetic, the media and press do look at her collections as a separate brand and been warmly receptive since the beginning.
This collection is finally hitting store racks and I`m sure most of them are going to be in stock (if not all already) right now, so check them out! For all you bad-ass, cool chicks out there.
A potato chip is still a fried potato by any other name… delicious, a beautiful specimen of indulgence, as long as it’s not already being digested. But HOW do we preserve this effigy of yum-yum so that one can always gaze upon it’s glistening glory?
Well FEAR NOT. Because now you can not only preserve your favorite snacks, but wear them as high-end accessories and jewelry thanks to Japanese brand Rotari Parker’s well-hidden techniques. Designer Rie Hirota perfected her art a few years ago, and before we go on too much further, remember that these are REAL snacks in her pieces. No fakery here.
Think of sprinkles, pretzels (regular and chocolate-covered, natch), cornflakes, M&Ms, biscuits, cookies, croissants, sugared toast, gummi bears, crackers, danish cakes, banana chips, potato sticks and even melon bread. You name it, she can encapsulate it. But as an artist, it’s not just about plasticizing goodies, she works on each piece for balance, decoration, humor and adding it to each collection with different themes (er, snacks) every season.
I used some of her pieces in a photo shoot recently and they were all so marvelous! I was STARVING the entire shoot. I can’t believe model JUN-chan didn’t try and eat her way through her neck and wrist.
Right now, just in time for some valentine’s day goodness, Rotari Parker has set up a small pop-up shop in the front entrance to Laforet. It’s called “Rotari Parker eats Laforet” and there’s tons of new items, like pretzel + gummy bear necklaces and frosted cornflake bracelets.
I request my favorite snack: yaki-imo (baked sweet potato).Just stick that baby on a necklace, pronto! And here are lots more delectable photos from her blog and instagram. I couldn’t tell half the time if I was looking at an accessory or a dessert she was eating +_+
Let’s talk about something happy! Bright! Colorful! Unique! Have YOU been to Vermeerist yet? … I want to bring everyone’s attention to Meiji Dori in Harajuku, where the boutique BEAMS owns a block of shops ranging from a music store to a Tokyo “culture souvenir” shop to International Beams Gallery, a high-end store. Before, you could ignore those and instead steal away to a private 2nd floor boutique to find Vermeerist. Unfortunately, it was closed last year, but instead of shuttering it forever, it has its own special space inside International Gallery now ( a relief it’s still running but I’m totally bummed the boutique closed though T_T) .
This is a special little space, founded by Beams veterans and wife-husband team Tomoko Inuzuka and Katsuhiro in 2003 and the two of them run the entire Vermeerist operation in tandem-all the way down to buying and assisting with sales in the store. The couple is known among the industry for being quite the dressers. Tomoko, for her unique, colorful style that is part retro, part cartoon with bowtie lips (think “Minnie Mouse”), part ethnic, part glamour and always over the top. Katsuhiro also has his own style of gentlemanly chic, but witha flare for patterns and color. The store reflects their style a lot with a mix of vintage and new items, many of them brands that you would be VERY hard pressed to find ANYWHERE else. Here’s Tomoko:
To celebrate the release of the new 2013 collection, the shop teamed up with my friend and one of my favorite fashion illustrators Przemek Sobocki (nee P-chan) for a page in their catalog featuring the Manish Arora items.
I sent my coffee table in my living room to the garbage pile with the glass cracked, and since then I have been piling up all of my photography books creating the illusion of a coffee table. Right now on the top of that pile is the “Pleats Please” book just published by Taschen.
It is not just an homage to the genius that is Issey Miyake’s PLEATS PLEASE brand of clothing, but a thorough look at how it was invented, developed and finally brought to fruition. It’s like…you wonder “Who discovered that mashing up coca beans and adding sugar would make Chocolate?!” or “How did one realize that fermenting cow milk would create cheese?!”. The mysteries of life! Well, with this book, the mystery of Miyake’s impossibly permanently pleated garment, the one that can be washed and squished and stuffed and worn for eons and still keep its shape, is revealed in detail (lots of experimentation, inventing new textiles, turning and twisting a pleat on its axes..yada, yada, ohhh, nothing special).
My image of Pleats Please was that for women who travel who might be older and given up on dressing in fancy clothes on trips. And then I saw how well Susie Bubble made the line look young and fresh and my interest was piqued. Since then I have watching it, collecting anectdotes and editorials, and even advertisements. My FAVORITE are the sushi and 2012 40th anniversary “Delicious” ads!
Dazed and Confused June 2012 Photography Alex Sainsbury Styling Robbie Spencer
Also, the PLEATS PLEASE brand has just released its first ever fragrance. The first people to ever wear the PLEATS PLEASE brand were dancers, so to celebrate there is a dance performance being held at Tokyo Midtown next wed. 31st.
Miyake sure is a mad genius… and while Pleats Please has been around for many decades now, Miyake hasn’t relented on inventing new clothing. You HAVE seen his new “132 5.” origami brand right?