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Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2005
e.m.'s The Message, Lift Position, Blackpain wristwatches, Soe in Naka-Meguro . . .
By MARTIN WEBB
Message in a boutique
Eijiro Nakatani and Masayoshi Tobita are perhaps Japanese fashion's fastest rising stars. But this artistic design duo doesn't make dresses or denim, their e.m. brand specializes in jewelry. With their creations being stocked by the prestigious Paris boutique Colette, the pair has received a huge amount of kudos and has been courted for collaborations with Moet & Chandon, Swarovski and the Tricot Comme des Garcons label.
e.m.'s store, which looks more like a contemporary art gallery than a jeweler, is in the well-heeled Shirogane district, but for several years it has had temporary boutiques in Shinjuku's Isetan department store. Their fifth such collaboration with Isetan, titled "The Message," opened last month, and presents not only their fun, asymmetrical and often distressed-look creations (pictured above), but also jewelry from upcoming designers, including kitsch bling from Yoshiko Creation Paris, skull and dagger accessories by Tom Binns and the hippy chic charms of Shelly Litvak.
Also on show here is Only I, a series of busy-looking handcrafted necklaces assembled from a combination of charms and cameos found in Parisian antique markets and e.m.'s own parts. As the name implies, this line is available only at Isetan's The Message, which will close at the end of the year.
The Message, Isetan Shinjuku Honten 2F, 3-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo; tel: (03) 3352-1111
Message in a boutique
Well positioned Lift is a triumvirate of fashion boutiques in Daikanyama that stock some of the world's most creative designer brands and have a loyal following of extremely style-conscious customers. The original store, Lift Ecru, is located in the DixSept building, with the slightly more exclusive Lift Etage just around the corner and the third location on Castle Street, a busy little strip named after a pink apartment block.
This store used to be called Lift Circle, but last month was reopened as Lift Position with a new all-white interior and expanded lineup. Brands stocked here include Raf Simons, who was recently appointed creative director of the Jil Sander brand; Puma's collaboration with Tokyo-based leather specialist Mihara Yasuhiro; and Bless, a conceptual label from Berlin.
To celebrate the relaunch, the two designers behind Bless have created the Cable Wear Project, a line of headphones hand-embellished with beads, lace, leather and other materials. Priced at around 30,000, yen each of the 30 sets of headphones is unique.
Lift Postion, 10-1 Daikanyama-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; tel: (03) 3780-3530.
Time for a classic
While the lamentable rise in popularity of oversized wristwatches gains pace (see Sylvester Stallone's beloved Panerai and gaudy hunks of metal from Franck Muller) arbiters of good taste insist that, except for the case of the nearsighted, timepieces should be just deep enough to accommodate a high-quality movement, and no deeper.
While there are plenty of manufactures producing properly proportioned products, shoppers with a penchant for history might well be tempted by offerings from Blancpain, the world's oldest watchmaker. Blancpain is celebrating its 270th anniversary this year, and has released a new model, the Aqua Lung Large Date, which has been produced in a limited, numbered series. The model is primarily distinguished by a large date window at 6 o'clock and combines contemporary aesthetics with a classic elegance.
This tastefully proportioned timepiece's sapphire-crystal case-back allows the wearer to view the self-winding mechanism assembled by the Blancpain master watchmakers, and perhaps reflect on the value of time.
See www.blancpain.com for a list of retailers.
Naka-Meguro is the testing ground for many up-and-coming fashion brands, and the latest addition to the area is Soe, a menswear label designed by Soichiro Ito. The tiny store, on a back street on the Daikanyama side of the Meguro River, has a spare, all-white wooden interior, leaving the racks of military-inspired clothing to do the talking.
Soe recently launched a line of one-off vintage remakes. These include T-shirts that have been chopped up and stitched back together, a scarf made from the sleeves of a checked shirt, and jeans with one leg replaced with the leg from a different-colored vintage pair of kind of denim. Soe, which in Japanese has the double meaning of "originality" and "dress sense," offers plenty of both.
Soe, 1-11-13 Kami-Meguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo; tel: (03) 3770-5155. The brand can also be viewed (and purchased) at online boutique www.sitezero.
Sneaking into Harajuku
Part of the brand stable of snowboard gear giant Burton, action-sports label Gravis has gone and got itself a brand spanking new flagship store in Harajuku. Gravis's specialty is sneakers, known for their "footbed" insoles, which have indentations to snugly cradle the wearer's toes.
As is now obligatory for streetwear brands, Gravis works with graffiti artists to develop new looks for their line; current collaborators include Marok, the art director and publisher of street-art magazine Lodown, and U.K.-based Matt Sewell. They also have a roster of permatanned professional surfers and snowboarders as brand ambassadors, and their fabulous lifestyles can be ogled on the company's Web site.
Like most of the products, this new store's interior is based on a minimalist aesthetic. Its simple combination of polished pine and white acrylic fits in with the raw concrete shell of the building it occupies. The location -- just off Omotesando Street, on the Harajuku side of Cat Street -- should theoretically guarantee a steady stream of customers, but strangely, it didn't work for the street-fashion stores that occupied the space over the past couple of years.
Gravis, 4-26-21-1F Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; tel: (03) 5775-7103; www.gravisfootwear.com
For more from the frontline of the Tokyo fashion scene see Martin Webb's blog www.tokyofashionscene.com