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Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2006
Van Cleef & Arpels' 'Treasures,' Kate Moss in Tokyo, Oakley on Cat Street . . .
By MARTIN WEBB
When Estelle Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef opened their first boutique on Paris' hallowed Place Vendome in 1906, one of France's most revered jewelry maisons was born.
Famed for flowing, curvaceous creations that often feature dynamic motifs drawn from the worlds of flora and fauna, as well as for ingenious hinges and fastenings that allow them to change shape or be disassembled, Van Cleef & Arpels boasts among its past clients Audrey Hepburn, Eva Peron, Jacqueline Kennedy and Princesses Grace and Caroline of Monaco. Current devotees include a raft of Hollywood stars, including Julia Roberts, Zhang Ziyi and Uma Thurman.
For this, its centennial year, the house has brought to life 11 previously unrealized design blueprints dating from between 1920 and 1960 that were preserved in its archives. Dubbed "Revealed Treasures," these extravagant works of art pay tribute to the successive generations of craftsmen whose skill and imagination won the brand its loyal following.
The metamorphic qualities that play such a crucial role in the house's aesthetic are amply exemplified in this commemorative collection in the form of "Belle du Jour," a necklace with fabulous diamonds of various cuts depicting a geometrical ribbon motif, which can be disassembled to form five separate pieces of jewelry.
The fact that this design from the '30s, and all the others in the collection, areperfectly suited to current styles epitomizes the timelessness of the Van Cleef & Arpels look.
Kate blows into Tokyo
When photographs of supermodel Kate Moss taking cocaine were published in U.K. tabloids in September last year, top fashion houses like Chanel and Burberry rushed to cancel their contracts with the controversial icon. But Rimmel, the British cosmetics brand, stuck with the girl who has been its face since 2001 by going ahead with a TV commercial they had filmed to promote a foundation called Recovery -- an ironic moniker given that the ad aired just as she was going into rehab.
Rimmel's bet on Moss was right on the money: The drug scandal simply served to enhance Moss' supermodel edginess. Not only did Burberry ultimately decide to renew her contract, she subsequently inked deals with 14 major brands including Dior, Louis Vuitton, Versace, Calvin Klein, Bvlgari, Nikon and Virgin Mobile. In September she inked a deal for a line under her name at retail chain Topshop, bringing her earnings for 2006 to over $60 million.
Amid rumors that she was pregnant with the child of her wild, drug-addled rock-star fiance Pete Doherty, Moss touched down in Tokyo last week to promote Rimmel's re-entry into the Japanese market in partnership with cosmetics giant Kose. It remains to be seen how far the rebel model's fashion kudos will take the mass-market brand here, but their poster girl is certainly on the ascendant: Not only is she gracing more magazine covers than ever, she recently grabbed a spot in Vanity Fair's prestigious Best Dressed Hall of Fame and last week was named model of the year at the British Fashion Awards. Who says bad behavior doesn't pay?
Rimmel customer inquiries (03) 3273-1881.
Mont Blanc, the German pen brand famous for its six-pointed snowcap logo, is currently celebrating its centennial year. The company used to deal only in luxury writing instruments, but since its acquisition by the Richemont group (which owns Cartier, Dunhill and Piaget, among other brands), it has branched out into leather goods, stationery, desk accessories, jewelry, eyewear -- and even a fragrance.
To mark the unveiling of its first free-standing store in Japan, opened in Ginza early last month, the company added a Japanese face to its list of "brand ambassadors." Joining Julianne Moore, Johnny Depp and British soprano singer Katherine Jenkins, the three stars currently paid to wear the brand's accessories, is Chiaki Kuriyama, best known for her role as a psychotic schoolgirl in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill Vol. 1." Ads featuring her likeness drawn, appropriately enough, in ink, have been plastered all over the city.
The three-story flagship, rendered in the marque's signature black-and-white color scheme, is certain to be a favorite with visitors from China, where Mont Blanc enjoys wider recognition than almost any other luxury brand.
7-9-11 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo. Tel: (03) 3288-3200.
Cool for Cat Street
Harajuku's Cat Street, the spiritual home of Japan's vibrant street fashion and culture scene, is steadily acquiring a more sophisticated ambience. This evolution is most pronounced south of the intersection with Omotesando-dori, where the arrival of United Arrows, Adidas and a Tadao Ando-designed store housing Armani's interiors line have transformed it into a far more upscale destination.
The latest phase in the drag's ongoing gentrification is the opening of Jingumae Taurus, a seven-story building run by Asahi Partners, in which three big American brands, Oakley, Burton and DKNY, have chosen to locate their first flagship stores in Japan.
Oakley's sports eyewear outlet is a spacey matte-silver affair, while snowboard giant Burton has opted for an art gallery-inspired look, with framed pictures lining the walls on all three floors. New York-based fashion brand DKNY, meanwhile, boasts a dark interior on the first floor and glass walls plastered with its logo in meter-high letters upstairs.
5-17-4 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Tel: Burton (03) 3409-5545; DKNY (03) 6418-8185; Oakley (03) 5738-2777.
Street-style graphic designer, retail entrepreneur and all-round creative wizard Jeff Ng is commonly known as Jeff Staple -- a name taken from his visual communications agency Staple Design, which lists Nike, LVMH, Apple, Timberland, Uniqlo, Sony and Puma among its clients.
Staple started a line of T-shirts while still a student at New York's prestigious Parsons art school, and in 2002 he opened Reed Space, a concept store that took its name from his mentor at college, Michael Reed.
The multitasking style guru has long since had strong connections with the Japanese street fashion scene -- he blogs for Harajuku style godfather Hiroshi Fujiwara's www.honeyee.com -- and was encouraged to bring his shop-cum-creator's hangout format to Tokyo.
The store, located in Aoyama near Blue Note Tokyo, was designed by upcoming architecture outfit Upsetters (whose scale model of the store is pictured left), and features a wall lined with stacked chairs that serve as shelving.
Besides the Staple Design label, the merchandise includes clothing from streetwear outfits with wacky names like Claw Money, 10 Deep, Twelve Bar and Fatcop, as well as art and design books, magazines, DVDs and CDs.
6-4-6 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo. Tel: (03) 6804-6973. www.thereedspace.com
Big Apple resident Miho Aoki founded fashion label United Bamboo -- which shares its name with a Chinese crime syndicate -- in 1998, and a year later teamed up with Vietnam-born Thuy Pham, a fellow regular on Manhattan's indie-art scene.
The two not only design clothing for men and women, they also stage exhibitions for underground artists, produce a "curated" T-shirt line, and run the record label UUAR, which puts out compilations of tracks by avant-garde New York-based musicians.
Pham and Aoki's clothing is underpinned by a cynical take on kawaii, as exemplified by this fall's collection of '80s-inspired looks that featured bubble silhouettes -- a reference to the couture of Cristobal Balenciaga and the architectural creations of Yohji Yamamoto.
In September, Tokyo became home to a second United Bamboo store, this one dedicated to the label's menswear line. Located behind Omotesando Hills, it is a slick-looking spot, but not quite as impressive as its futuristic Daikanyama location, designed by performance artist Vito Acconci. Head there for a real architectural wow, and to the newly opened shop to get arty threads for guys.
3-10-11 Kita-Aoyama, Minto-ku, Tokyo. Tel: (03) 3479-8171. www.unitedbamboo.com