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Tuesday, March 13, 2007
COSMIC WONDER, Shibusei and Monocle magazine
By MARTIN WEBB
The Paris fashion season has been the principal forum for presenting the works of cultural phenomenon COSMIC WONDER since it debuted at the Centre Pompidou in 2000.
This year, however, marks a significant shift in the strategy of the label's elusive instigator Yukinori Maeda.
Maeda has divided COSMIC WONDER into three projects guided in distinctly different ways -- building a more tangible framework within which he believes he can better express his idiosyncratic ethos.
The trio are COSMIC WONDER, COSMIC WONDER Light Source and the art works he produces under his own name.
As part announcement, part celebration of this realignment, a concept book titled COSMIC WONDER FREE PRESS 1 was released in February by avant-garde Swiss publishers Nieves, in conjunction with whom Maeda will release two monographs -- "Hidden Path of Light COSMIC WONDER" and "Hidden Path of Light Yukinori Maeda" -- later in the year.
The first undertaking of COSMIC WONDER Light Source, which has become the new trinity's sole fashion project, was a highly rated runway show staged in Paris on Feb. 25. In October, Maeda will present two separate creative endeavors -- one as COSMIC WONDER and one in his artist incarnation, as part of a group exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.
COSMIC WONDER is also continuing to widen its focus on installation and performance projects in venues around the world: Maeda has previously orchestrated exhibitions in the U.S. and the Netherlands, and other happenings outside Japan are currently under development.
In the meantime, a visit to one of the hypnotically minimalist COSMIC WONDER shops in Osaka and Tokyo affords a good window on this visionary creator's stark aesthetic and often disconcerting imagery.
4-2-5 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; tel: (03) 5774-6866. 1-13-17 Shinmachi, Nishi-ku, Osaka; tel: (06) 6532-8874. www.cosmicwonder.com
The Shibuya branch of department store Seibu has undergone a radical face- lift -- its first in 12 years. The biggest change is a new food hall, called Gourmet Marche, in the basement of the A building. The cosmetics zone, on the floor immediately above, features 10 new counters, including one from the ultra-chic NARS brand.
The basement of building B has been rebranded as the Stylish Sports section and features brands such as Y-3 and Adidas by Stella McCartney. The first floor is studded with glitzy jewelry counters, while the second features new outlets from Bottega Veneta and Dior, while on the floor above are new boutiques by Jil Sander and Alberta Ferretti.
The truly fashion-obsessed, though, will probably be heading directly for the fourth floor of A with its new boutiques from seven brands, including Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Furstenberg and Antonio Berardi. Style-conscious moms should note that the seventh floor of the A building boasts three new kids' boutiques.
21-1 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; Tel: (03) 3462-0111
Fashion is certainly not an easy bedfellow of environmental responsib- ility, given that it is underpinned by a system that necessitates the biannual consumption of merch- andise produced at an astonishing cost to the environment. And while there are more than a few labels who market themselv- es as having a "green" philos- ophy, they rarely achieve anything even approaching genuine sustainability.
More crucially, very few of these supposedly eco-friendly brands have the design skills or sensitivity to trends needed to make fashion's opinion-form- ing stratum prick up their ears and thereby gain enough of a following to become a viable alternative to the apparel giants' destructive culture.
In recent months, however, there has been a growing buzz surrounding art-fashion collective Andrea Crews, the brainchild of Parisian style-scene, wild-child Maroussia Rebecq. Endorsed by the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Lacroix and Sonia Rykiel, this eccentric bunch make clothing from secondhand garments and show off their highly original creations at performances that involve some of France's funkiest artists, stylists, video directors and DJs.
Working with mountains of unwanted clothes accumulated mostly through a network of for-charity thrift stores, Andrea Crews gives new life to old rags: grandpa's old trousers are transformed into mini-overalls, a stained T-shirt into a sexy tank top and a baggy sweat into a night dress. The look draws heavily on 1980s new wave, and the collective cites among its influences "comics, mystic Rastafarian frescoes, fanzines, scribbles, cutup porn, electro rhythms and punk flyers."
Working alongside France-based humanitarian organizations and in collaboration with Parisian schools, Andrea Crews describes itself as a forger of "social links," and with its sustainable and equitable model of production the label offers a cool -- although perhaps too wacky for the average consumer -- alternative to the prevailing fashion system.
Available at the www.andreacrews.com online store.
Monocle magazine stood out on the racks at Heathrow airport a couple of weeks ago. Launched last month by Wallpaper* creator Tyler Bru^le, the stylish yet cerebral monthly's boxy B5 size and distinctive black cover make it hard to miss. The magazine's editor, Andrew Tuck, who formerly headed up the features desk of British broadsheet The Independent On Sunday, argues that it has distinctive content, too.
"For the first issue alone, we dispatch- ed 60 writers, photographers, researchers and stylists to 40 locations," he wrote in a recent piece for his old employer. "We have no celebs, we don't accept freebies, and I don't think we have a single story that came from a press release."
That's admirable stuff, but JT readers will be further intrigued by Monocle's broad coverage of all things Japanese. No doubt fueled by publisher Bru^le's fascination with the Chrysanthemum Kingdom, Monocle has splashed out on a Tokyo bureau headed up by regular Wallpaper* contributor Fiona Wilson. The cover story of the inaugural issue is an epic feature on the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, and there is an exclusive manga strip by Takanori Yasaka at the back. Furthermore, the Monocle Web site boasts the world premiere of the trailer for "All God's Children Can Dance," a cinematic adaptation of a Haruki Murakami novel, as well as a photo slide show from that JMSDF story.
Monocle, priced 2,200 yen, is available at bookstores nationwide; www.monocle.com