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Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Chrome Hearts, Giraffe and Eley Kishimoto
By MISHA JANETTE and PAUL McINNES
Charmed, I'm sure
Silver-accessories brand Chrome Hearts launched its Aoyama shop nine years ago, but has recently reopened its doors after a renewal that's given it a fresh charm — one that's much more than just something dangly for your bracelet.
Chrome Hearts' founder is L.A.-based Richard Stark (pictured), a fashion entrepreneur who fully embraces the easy-going So-Cal attitude that he injects into his label. For the new shop, Stark was adamant about creating a relaxed, make-yourself-comfy atmosphere, so he put home at the heart of Chrome: a fully functional living space including bedroom, living area, kitchen and bathroom bedecked in Chrome Hearts furniture sits on the top floor. Outside of the building itself is a half-basketball court and, next to it, an open-brick BBQ pit, showing how seriously laid-back Stark is.
The brand's luxurious yet gritty accessories, including silver, leatherwear and eyewear, have propelled it to popularity since 1988, with fans ranging from Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld (who wears more than one Chrome Hearts ring on the same finger) to Japanese super-rockers L'Arc~en~Ciel. For the reopening of the shop, famous friends such as Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols graced Stark's fashion "family" with intimate performances. With a cozy gallery on the basement floor, any shopper can truly make themselves at home before leaving with some wicked Chrome.
6-3-14 Minami-Aoyama; (03) 5766-1081
Phillip's first in Tokyo
Although Aoyama sometimes feels full to capacity with flashy stores by world- famous designers, there is always space for one more. Fashion visionary and 2007 Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue Fashion Award finalist Phillip Lim has recently joined the crowd with his first international store in Tokyo's style epicenter.
The 3.1 Phillip Lim store was designed by Norito Takahashi of the "space design" outfit Jamo Associates. Takahashi has been making a name for himself in the past few years with some sterling work, including for leading Tokyo boutiques Loveless and Colour by Numbers.
His latest work is impressive. The futuristic shell facade holds a sophisticated interior with herringbone- pattern wooden floors and a stunningly elegant staircase. The white block walls have dainty cutout circles that let in speckled rays of sunlight to create a retail wonderland.
The store also carries the full monty of 3.1 Phillip Lim goods. In addition to the signature womenswear line you can get your hands on menswear, the kids' line, the organic Go Green Go collection and the complete accessories range.
Aoyama is the first stop in Phillip Lim's global expansion. More shops are planned for Japan and Asia, but next in the pipeline is a Hollywood outlet, which opens later this month.
Glassarea Aoyama, 5-4-41 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo; (03) 6418-5070
The necktie label Giraffe wants to junk the idea that a tie is a noose for your neck. The brand claims that while suits and other business attire have gone cool and casual, the necktie is sadly in dire need of a fresh makeover.
Giraffe wants you to start thinking of wearing a tie as another way of extending your personality, to raise your head up high like the brand's namesake and see things from a different perspective.
Those are some hefty expectations for an accessory that is pretty much just a strip of fabric with a knot. But it makes the message come through loud and clear with its kitschy takes on ties: Some have ruffles or horsehair, others graphic prints and shocking colors; it even tackles the classic diagonal stripe by hiding some wacky fun on its backside.
What began as an online collection in 1996 has led to a presence in real-world shops, as well as in Giraffe's own store in Tokyo's upscale Daikanyama. The brand continues its collaborations as well, working with labels such as DressCamp and e.m. It even designed a tie with actor Tadanobu Asano that was embroidered with his poems and pictures.
Outside Japan, Giraffe can be found in such unlikely places as London's Victoria & Albert Museum and Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. So tie 'em tight and tie 'em proud, boys!
Giraffe Shop Daikanyama is located at 29-9 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; (03) 5941-5675
A summer flash
When Mark Eley and Wakako Kishimoto, who recently took over as creative directors of fashion house Cacharel, started out in South London in the 1990s, few would have predicted they would become among the most innovative and sought-after designers working today. The duo, who work under the name Eley Kishimoto, are leading "surface decorators" who make brilliant print designs that have captured the hearts and minds of women the world over.
Perfectly timed for summer, Eley Kishimoto has released "flash print" sneakers in both high- and low-cut designs. The flash print has been one of its favorites since 2001 and is regarded as one of its best and most famous.
A sure summer hit, the unisex basketball sneakers are available from the A.P.C. Homme store in Daikanyama in five colors (red, blue, white, black, and black and white) with the high cuts coming in at ¥23,800 and the low cuts a more affordable ¥13,800.
25-1 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; (03) 3496-7570
Cut like candy
If a piece of fine jewelry is described as "delicious," "sweet" or "fruity," chances are it's: A) from designer Marie-Helene de Taillac; or B) inspired by her.
MHT has been possibly the most copied jewelry designer on the planet. In 1996, she revolutionized the industry with the old-fashioned notion that fine jewelry can be more than just diamonds and rubies when she started using bright, colorful gemstones such as amethyst and tourmaline. Available worldwide — including at her freestanding boutique in Aoyama — her handmade pieces appear to be dripping in candied jewels.
The shop was designed by Marc Newson, who is also known for updating stodgy luxury with zippy futuristic designs. The interior is a lacquered powder-blue with soft spotlights shining on liquidlike shapes cut into the wall.
Currently, MHT is showing the work of Jean-Philippe Delhomme in a mini-exhibit in the space. Delhomme is known for whimsical fashion illustrations done in gouache, including a series of groundbreaking drawings from the 1980s depicting the haughtiness and snobbery of fashion. See a running theme?
Delhomme's cutouts for MHT, however, are lighthearted depictions of scenes, jet-set couples, a circus, and one in which one character looks mysteriously like a delicious, sweet — and fruity — John Galliano.
Jean-Philippe Delhomme's exhibit runs through Aug. 8 at Marie-Helene de Taillac, 3-7-9 Kita Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo; (03) 5468-2703