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Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2008
Raf Simons, Bulgari, Marc Newson and more
By PAUL MCINNES and MISHA JANETTE
Quality sunglasses should be an essential item in everybody's wardrobe from Durban to Daikanyama. Worn well they can complete a look, but the wrong choice can undo any previous sartorial scores you've made.
Australian brand AM Eyewear's latest collection, inspired by Andy Warhol's Factory creates a retro look that simultaneously complements the latest in fashion trends. Oversize and glamorous, these glasses come with surprisingly earthy names such as "Chezza," "Cobsey" and "Krikey" and sport a multitude of colors, from merlot and gold to black and pink.
Worn by celebrities including actress and style icon Sienna Miller, music mogul Jay-Z and superstar diva Beyonce, AM Eyewear is becoming the first choice of stars and fashion-forward punters. Multicolored and flamboyant, the "Julsey Allsorts" is already a big seller in Japan, so hurry down to beat the post-New Year rush. (Paul McInnes)
AM Eyewear is available from Midwest (1-6-1 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo), Loveless (3-7-11 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku,Tokyo) and Isetan; from ¥29,400
Shades of style
Belgian designer Raf Simons has made a career from his crafted menswear that's inspired by youth culture. A hero of contemporary fashion, he's regarded as one of the most influential designers around. Now Simons is finally tackling shades.
His Spring/Summer 2008 collection included his first line of sunglasses, produced in collaboration with U.K. label Linda Farrow. The range of glasses caused as big a stir as the clothes due to its progressive and eclectic look.
Available in multiple shapes and colors, these shades are more than just accessories. They've been through the same rigorous and exploratory process as the clothes line and are an integral part of the Raf Simons silhouette.
The alliance with Simons is just one of Linda Farrow's many — past projects have included designers such as Bernhard Willhelm. For 2008, look for her partnerships with House of Holland and Dries Van Noten. (P.M.)
Raf Simons & Linda Farrrow's sunglasses will be available from Midwest in late January.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then high-end jewelry brand Bulgari, with the opening of Bulgari Tower — its largest store anywhere — is doing its best to put itself squarely in the dazzled pupils of shoppers in Tokyo's Ginza.
A new milestone for the Rome-based Bulgari group was passed on Nov. 30 with the launch of the 10-story tower on Ginza's Chuo Dori street, which follows the appearance of another store across town in the Gyre building on Omotesando a month earlier. In celebration, Francesco Trapani, CEO of the Bulgari Group (pictured right with actress Ryoko Yonekura) invited elegant friends and fans of the brand to join in the new flagship's launch.
"The Japanese market has always been key to Bulgari as the place to launch new products, given the renowned passion and attention devoted by Japanese customers to quality, design, and image," said Trapani.
A combination of Modernist- and Roman-inspired architecture, the building has 940 sq. meters of floor space: The first floor has the brand's pendants, rings and other signature jewelry; the second floor has watches, sunglasses, bags, and fragrances; while the third floor offers a plethora of a girl's best friends set into luxury jewelry for brides and the high-end customer, with a special VIP room for those purchases that require extra attention; and finally, the ninth and 10th floors bouse the restaurant and bar Il Ristorante, which is operated by Bulgari resorts and hotels. Il Ristorante is an Italian-style eatery serving updates of traditional recipes under the care of chef Michele dell'Aquila, who has come straight from the same restaurant at Bali's Bulgari Resort. At the top of the tower is a terrace featuring an al-fresco lounge and Mediterranean-style hanging garden of olive trees, sage, and rosemary.
The tower will also display Bulgari's "Vintage Museum Collection," a selection of couture pieces representing the brand's influence on jewelry design. The pieces cycle through silver jewelry from the 1800s to Art Deco styles of the 1920s, and up to 1970s Pop Art. Several bejeweled manifestations of the iconic Bulgari snake appear, as well as other stunners shown in display windows that adorn the jewel-box tower's facade. (Misha Janette)
2-7-12 Ginza, Chuo-ku Tokyo; (03) 3239-0100
Osaka for the men
Tokyo's Isetan menswear building in Shinjuku is hard to beat. A regular haunt for fashionistos from Japan and abroad, it's become something of a mecca for label hunters and style geeks.
On Feb. 1, however, Isetan will see some true competition when Osaka's Hankyu Men's opens with six floors of international and domestic brands in what will become the largest menswear department in Japan.
In a brilliant coup, the complex will host the first shop in Japan of former Gucci creative director Tom Ford (more stores are planned for Osaka and Tokyo). Hankyu also makes good use of top stylist and fashion producer Tsuyoshi Noguchi, who will oversee selections for shops that will feature Japanese gems such as the brands Undercover, Number (N)ine and N. Hoolywood.
The six floors each have individual themes, such as men's accessories, international brands, gentlemen's style and "trend casual." It all promises to be a sartorial paradise for fashionable gentlemen seeking out the latest looks rather than Uniqlo uniformity. Other highlights are the impressive array of international labels, including Thom Browne, Marc Jacobs, Kris Van Assche and Raf Simons (see "Shades of style"), as well as a members' lounge on the third floor — the perfect place for a pampered man to relax after a hard day's shopping. (P.M.)
7-10 Kakutacho, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi; www.hankyu-dept.co.jp
The design of time
While it may raise red flags among the more practically minded, the IKEPOD watch is a go-to item for those who have everything. Between ¥1.4-5.6 million each, not only do the seriously designed timepieces require the same kind of affluence one needs for a mid-end luxury car, their precious metals and sleek look should rev any style maven's engine.
Created by industrial design maverick Marc Newson, IKEPOD features a concave face, continuous titanium casings, precision Swiss engineering and individually numbered backs to make sure that the wearer fully understands that true luxury lies in both quality and exclusivity. The Australia-born Newson, named by Time magazine in 2007 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, has had a cult following in Japan since he lived here in the 1990s.
The new watch line released here is comprised of three series: the minimal and unassuming Horizon; the function-friendly Hemipode (which provides the date, a second time zone and a chronograph); and the Megapode, which has a unique slide rule to help solve even the most complicated of calculations. The design shop RESTIR in Tokyo's Ginza is sole distributor of the entire collection of IKEPODs in Japan, including two of the Horizon Black Hole PVC with an 18-k dial, a limited edition of which only 66 are available worldwide. (M.J.)
Ginza 4-2-2, Chuo-ku, Tokyo; (03) 5159-0595