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Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2005

Fendi furs and furnishings, Humans by Mike Mills, dark Baccarat, Vera Wang perfumes . . .

F is for flamboyant

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Ostentatious interior offerings at the refitted salon of Fendi Omotesando

The twin F's of the Fendi logo used to stand for "fabulous furs," but since the Milanese furrier launched its interior line, it could also be interpreted as "flamboyant furnishings."

A Fendi store occupies the prime spot in LVMH's huge One Omotesando building, a 17,000-sq.-meter, Kengo Kuma-designed edifice that sits at the top of Tokyo's best loved, and most picturesque, shopping boulevard. While the ground level is filled with leather bags, sunglasses and the like, since last week the second floor has been transformed into a showcase for the venerable brand's signature furs and the Fendi Casa range of glitzy furniture and fittings.

With its home-interior line established over 20 years ago, Fendi was one of the first fashion houses to venture into the lifestyle market. Word has it that when a super-rich madam gets hooked on Fendi, she just can't buy enough, and Fendi launched new product ranges to satisfy a growing number of clients with seemingly endless amounts of cash.

The merchandise on offer ranges from the outrageous (like a pink crocodile embossed calfskin sofa which will set you back 1.8 million, yen or a huge rectangular chandelier with the double F logo in black crystals for 1.5 million yen) to the relatively understated (smart black stools for 117,000 yen).

Although many of the products on display here look suited only to the country homes of Chinese arrivistes, smart shoppers would do well to take advantage of Fendi's order-made furniture service, through which customers can mix and match shapes and fabrics from over 500 samples.

For inquiries, call (03) 5414-6762.

Being Mike Mills

Mike Mills at Cow Books
The world of Mike Mills for the taking at Cow Books inside Omotesando's Cabane de Zucca
News photo

With his unkempt ginger beard and skater hobo styling, Mike Mills doesn't look like a millionaire graphic artist who lists Nike, Adidas, Gap, Levi's, Volkswagen and Mastercard among his clients. That's in addition to doing album covers for the Beastie Boys and Sonic Youth, music videos for the likes of Moby, Air and Cibo Matto, and recently directing a feature-length film -- "Thumbsucker," which stars Keanu Reeves and hit U.S. screens last week.

As if he wasn't busy (and rich) enough already, this grungy street art icon has launched a project called Humans by Mike Mills. Don't call it a retail store -- it's a "means of open-ended communication," in which Mills' sketches and concepts are turned into saleable objects.

So, if you've seen the art, videos and movies and you want to buy the T-shirt, head over to the Cow Books corner on the second floor of the Cabane de Zucca store in Omotesando, or Play Mountain Villa in Sendagaya where temporary installations of these goods have been on show since Sept. 1.

Among the products on sale are T-shirts and tote bags made in collaboration with the likes of fashion designer Susan Cianciolo, photographer Tomoko Nagao and interior designer Shinichiro Nakahara.

For more information, see www.humans.jp

The Darkside of Baccarat

Philippe Starck for Baccarat

First finding fame in the 1920s and '30s with the help of Surrealists such as Jean Cocteau and Man Ray, the crystal maker Baccarat has recently been given an extensive overhaul. Leading the house's return to fame is interior-design supremo Philippe Starck, who was appointed as creative director in 2003.

Starck shot to fame after designing Cafe Costes in Paris and went on to handle interiors for a string of top luxury hotels across the globe. He first used Baccarat while designing Felix, the highly acclaimed bar atop Hong Kong's Peninsula Hotel.

If the source of crystal's fascination is light, it seems odd that the most successful range Starck has designed for Baccarat is called the Darkside Collection and is executed almost entirely in black. The results of this paradoxical experiment, which include a paperweight called Hell, a tumbler called Black Angel and a range of spectacular chandeliers called Black Zenith, are testament to Starck's genius.

The chandeliers, which were one of Starck's first designs for Baccarat's Paris flagship store, has proved a huge hit, despite the price tag of 9.4 million yen. Those hoping to get a bit of black magic without breaking the bank may not be in luck -- the cheapest item, one of those Black Angel tumblers, will cost you 63,000 yen.

The fragrance of the bride

Vera Wang

A fter 16 years as a fashion editor at Vogue, Vera Wang left to launch a line of bridal gowns and has never looked back. Shen's now a household name in the United States, and stars such as Uma Thurman and Sharon Stone have walked down the aisle in her understatedly elegant creations, while the likes of Charlize Theron and Sarah Jessica Parker have worn her party frocks to the Oscars.

Just to give you an idea of how huge Wang is stateside, she offers wedding wear, pre^t-a-porter, jewelry, footwear and eyewear lines as well as a range of home goods that spans glass, china, cutlery, picture frames, vases and stationery. And let's not forget the book or the Hawaiian honeymoon suite.

So maybe you got married already, or perhaps you don't plan on getting married anytime soon. You can still buy into the world of Wang with one of her tastefully packaged perfumes. The self-titled scent is essentially floral and feminine, beginning with fresh hints of green mandarin leaf and lime, followed by lingering notes of nutmeg, vintage leather and sandalwood. The Eau de Parfum spray is priced at 13,230 yen for a 100-ml bottle.

Vera Wang for Men is essentially a masculine version of the women's scent and comes in a cognac-colored bottle with chrome cap. Priced at 10,185 yen for a 100-ml vaporizer bottle, it is the perfect fragrance for stylish grooms.

Well-heeled heels

Selling luxury is a perilous game perhaps best left to those rich enough to be numbed to its potentially ruinous power. Rene Fernando Caovilla not only owns big chunks of north Italy and has stakes in newspapers and banks, he also runs the high-end women's footwear business founded by his father. Caovilla is a rival to Manolo Blahnik (of "Sex and the City" fame), and his shoes, with their embellishments of diamonds, bows, feathers and embroidery, bear no small resemblance to those of his more famous competitor. They share a similarly exorbitant price tag as well.

The creations of Casa Caovilla, however, have proven so popular over the past few years that boutiques have sprung up in New York, Paris and London. Now, Tokyo is getting one, too. It opens on Ginza's Namiki Dori, just down from Gucci, on Sept. 23.

The sedately lit salon displays the brand's latest models in its signature exotic fabrics, including silk, velvet, satin and lace, all painstakingly hand-crafted and decorated by artisans at the Caovilla workshops on the Riviera del Brenta.

Those with an especially posh party to attend may be tempted to take a look here, but should bear in mind that this store is designed to serve the kind of woman who never actually walks more than 15 meters at a time.

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