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Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2008

STYLE WISE

Ann Demeulemeester retrospective, FouR T-shirts, Lithium Homme and LaForet Xmas 2008


By MISHA JANETTE and PAUL McINNES

Fashion blast from the past

Because six months is too fleeting an amount of time to see good fashion disappear into the depths of consignment shops, designer Ann Demeulemeester has decided to re-release her archives in a line called "Collection Blanche."

Ann Demeulemeester

Demeulemeester is a Paris-based Belgian designer who is referred to as one of the Antwerp Six, an influential and radical group of designers from the 1980s who attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp for their fashion training. Demeulemeester's clothes are highly distinctive, with asymmetrical hems, swaths of hard leather mixed with soft chiffon and a stringent monochromatic black-and-white palette.

Collection Blanche is like a greatest-hits album for Demeulemeester, with each capsule collection consisting of a selection of women's pieces from various periods in her 20 influential years of fashion.

New pieces will be introduced each season and are available at various Ann Demeulemeester boutiques worldwide. In Japan, she has items at her flagship store in Omotesando Hills as well as at the Ann D. Shinjuku Isetan boutique. (Misha Janette)

Omotesando Hills, 4-12-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; (03) 6279-5071; www.anndemeulemeester.be

For cities for the designer

Tucked away on the sixth floor of a Beams store in Shinjuku is the charming and compact B Gallery. Until Dec. 25, the gallery plays host to a great little exhibition and temporary shop from the award-winning fashion illustrator and designer Przemek Sobocki.

Przemek Sobocki

In 2006, Poland native Sobocki, a winner of the Victoria & Albert Illustration Award, established with Bertie Worth the fashion label FouR primarily as a T-shirt brand. FouR has steadily grown into a full fashion label, though, based on the Pole's celebrated illustrations and prints. The label's moniker comes from the four cities that have been a major inspiration on Sobocki and that were the names of his first four collections — London, Paris, Tokyo and New York.

The limited-edition T-shirts on display, retailing around the ¥10,000 mark, are refreshingly cute, urban and eclectic, with prints ranging from Manhattan skyscrapers and Hoxton Street in London's East End to the super-popular silver Andy (Warhol that is).

The temporary store is also displaying some sample illustrations from the man whose work has graced such glamorous publications as Numero Japan, Commons & Sense and Harpers Bazaar Korea, so this is a rare opportunity to see the inspiration, sketches and designs from the label, or to purchase some of the latest additions to the collection. (Paul McInnes)

Gallery Beams Japan: 6F, 3-32-6 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo; (03) 5368-7309; www.fourdesign.info

Lithium for the '80s

To make the leap from studying at Hosei University Law School to becoming the Japanese designer-du-jour is no mean feat. In only a couple of years, former law student Takeshi Hiramatsu has turned Lithium into a full-blown label with a reputation for super-modish apparel.

Lithium Homme

Established in 2005, the brand debuted its Lithium Homme line in spring 2006, adding the womenswear line to its repertoire with Femme later the same year. Known for its minimal design and elegant silhouette, Lithium has clearly found a following in Japan. In addition to the enormous lines outside the brand's runway shows, the perpetually packed Shibuya flagship store and the fact that Lithium is sold in another 45 boutiques nationwide are clear indications of the brand's growing popularity.

Lithium's spring '09 collection — 20XX, which was showcased in Ebisu Garden Hall in mid-November — was a back-to-the-future extravaganza and an instant crowd pleaser with the label's faithful.

A futuristic take on 1980s style, the collection updated staples from the decade such as acid-washed jeans, zipped blousons and double-breasted jackets with rolled-up sleeves. Served up in a riot of neon, the collection was a clever and modern reinterpretation of a well-trodden theme. (Paul McInnes)

J-Cube C 2F, 6-12-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; (03) 3499-8873; www.lithium-homme.com

Six, six and six for scents

Six renowned perfumers are working with six globally recognized fashion designers to create six new fragrances for charity. Individually numbered with kicky custom packaging, each fragrance will be offered in a limited quantity of 2,000. A percentage of the net proceeds will go toward awareness and funding for the Designers Against AIDS foundation's new International AIDS Awareness Education Center in Antwerp, Belgium, which is scheduled to open this month.

LaForet Xmas 2008

For what they are calling "series one," a group of fan-favorite designers participated: Preen, Gareth Pugh, Cosmic Wonder Light Source (from Japan), Jeremy Scott, Alexandre Herchcovitch and Bernard Wilhelm. British designer Scott was on hand to celebrate the beginning of sales of the first perfume in Japan.

"I'm used to working with my eyes and not with my nose, so it was a big challenge, but it is something I can be especially proud of," Scott said about Illicit Sex, the fragrance he produced with Philippe Roques. "I wanted it to be spicy — very sexy. Because that's what perfume is about."

Illicit Sex is available nationwide at more than 38 boutiques. For a complete list, see the official Web site. (Misha Janette)

www.six-scents.com

Ho ho ho in Ha-ha-Harajuku

The Christmas season in Japan has its own quirks, so how about embracing it at the epicenter of all things perplexing yet fascinating in Tokyo? Shopping mall Laforet is celebrating 30 years as a Harajuku landmark with a four-day festival Dec. 21-24.

LaForet Xmas 2008 will be a showcase for more than 20 performers and groups who represent the true Laforet style.

The mall has been a magnet for those who prefer unique looks, with boutiques from the high-end to low-end competing to become the next big trend. Laforet supports the erratic changes in scenes and fads that zip through the district by keeping most of its tenants on short seasonal contracts, ensuring a constant influx of fresh stores.

Now, the mall is looking to the future. Under the theme of the "New Global Standard," the 30th-anniversary bash will bring fans zany and eclectic shows from such groups as The Rare Mushroom Dance Troupe and the live-installation artist d.v.d. (Misha Janette)

1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; (03) 3475-0411; www.laforet.ne.jp



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