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Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Tiffany-Gehry collaboration, Commes des Garcons for Speedo, Oliver Goldsmith eyewear . . .
By MARTIN WEBB
Synonymous with refined New York-style luxury, jeweler Tiffany & Co. has signed up California-based Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry to enhance its conservative image with a little left-field design credibility. The stellar collaboration has resulted in six lines of jewelry, each drawing on motifs from the star architect's oeuvre, including fish, folds and orchids.
Working closely with Tiffany's veteran craftsmen, Gehry has applied his signature angular undulations to materials like ebony, black gold, opal, oxidized silver and agate. These gently twisting fluid forms, with their striking plays on light, push the restrained Tiffany's sensibility right to the limit.
It is 20 years since the snooty Big Apple brand last asked an outside designer to work on its behalf, and for those keen to own a piece of this historic collection without breaking the bank, the least expensive of the tasteful rings from the Torque range goes for around 40,000 yen. At the other end of the spectrum is a diamond brooch modeled on the floor plan for Gehry's much heralded Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, which retails for close to $1 million.
Built for Speedo
Through her Comme des Garcons label, design radical Rei Kawakubo is credited with irrevocably altering our perception of clothing. Twenty-five years since "Comme" -- as it as reverentially referred to overseas -- shocked the fashion establishment with dark, distorted forms in its Paris runway debut, Kawakubo and her protege Junya Watanabe continue to wow the world with their outre imaginations.
While Watanabe has undertaken many design projects with other brands, including a line of clothing for Lacoste, his mentor has avoided all but a few such double-name dabblings. Now, though, Kawakubo has been tempted to turn her hand to such a scheme by one of her private passions: swimming.
Irked by a lack of stylish high performance swimwear, she turned to Speedo, the favored brand of serious swimmers. Together they created a collection for men and women, encompassing swimsuits, swimming caps, goggles and T-shirts. In typically austere Comme des Garcons style, the range is produced only in black, white and navy, but polka dots and a scrawl motif express the brand's ironically intellectual irreverence.
Comme des Garcons Aoyama, 5-2-1 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo. Tel: (03) 3406-3951.
Icons for eyes
After lying dormant for two decades, English eyewear brand Oliver Goldsmith is back in business. Its eponymous creator was famed as a supplier of spectacles to icons like Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and John Lennon, and as the designer of the first sunglasses ever to be featured on the pages of Vogue. The brand has been honored with a permanent display at London's Victoria and Albert Museum, where its founder is celebrated as the originator of fashion eyewear.
Until this spring all Oliver Goldsmith products were handmade in Britain by a small team of craftsmen, a fact that made imports to Japan eye-wateringly expensive. Now, though, the brand has inked a deal with a Japanese firm to manufacture reproductions of classic models, as well as the limited number of new designs released subsequent to its relaunch. That means a far more accessible price point for these iconic pieces of eyewear history.
Superlative eyewear store Continuer -- just up from the road from the new Martin Margiela store in Ebisu -- offers a comprehensive selection of both U.K.- and Japan-made Oliver Goldsmith creations.
Continuer, 2-9-2 Ebisu Minami, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Tel: (03) 3792-8978.