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Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009
Fashion inspired by imaginary destinations, the 1950s and naughty Polaroids
By MISHA JANETTE and PAUL MCINNES
Your visa to Fugahum
"Fugahum is our imaginary country. Yes, it's also our brand, but I always wanted to create a nation and write its history," says Akiyoshi Mishima, the philosophical half of the fashion unit Fugahum that the designer has formed with partner Asuka Yamamoto. "Isn't that what a fashion brand does anyway: Create its own world?"
Yamamoto knocked out five years as a pattern designer for Yohji Yamamoto before banding together with Mishima, who is the director of art collective Enlightenment. Their brand is an art-meets-fashion project that fuses Mishima's graphics and fine-art prints with textiles. For their collections, the two regularly bring in other creators as well, who collaborate on installations and accessories.
There are 10 chapters of history planned for the imaginary country of Fugahum, and this season's chapter, titled "Gradated Kingdom," sees it in its medieval stage: Invaders and natives clash, and mysticism and magic run amok.
"It was at this point in its history when cultures mixed, that many new forms of art were born. This is what we are trying to create," says Mishima. In clothing terms, this translates to gradients of color, 21st-century-shaman prints, old-world patterns and the odd touch of European japonaiserie that features drapes and origami folds in clothes for both men and women.
There's no passport necessary to reach this kooky country, so pack your bags and book your ticket to Fugahum right away. (Misha Janette)
Amid the economic doom and gloom surrounding the fashion world, it comes as a pleasant surprise that one of the best menswear brands in the business has opened a flagship store in Minami Aoyama. Based in New York and designed by Aomori-native Daiki Suzuki, Engineered Garments is one of the top names to emerge from the burgeoning American menswear scene that includes labels such as Rag & Bone, Robert Geller and Shipley & Halmos.
Suzuki started in the United States as a buyer before establishing Engineered Garments in 1999. Now a designer for the label Woolrich Woolen Mills and the winner of the prestigious CFDA/GQ Award for Best New Menswear in 2008, the Japanese designer is spearheading the movement in Americana-inspired outdoors and work clothing.
His new store has opened just in time for the release of the label's spring/summer 2009 collection. Referencing 1950s fashion, art and culture, the collection includes "American gentry" resort wear in prints and madras check. The flagship also stocks FWK by Engineered Garments, the new ladies' line that quietly debuted last year, and which — for all you trivia fans — is named after Katherine Hepburn's mansion in Fenwick, Connecticut. (Paul McInnes)
5-11-15 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku; (03) 6419-1798; http:/www.engineeredgarments.com
Iwaya's back for the fashion addicts
Designer Toshikazu Iwaya is synonymous with his former label Dresscamp, known for creating such unexpected garments as an enormous fur stole dyed to look like the game board from Twister. But it was a surprise when it was announced that, due to creative differences, he was leaving the most talked-about domestic label to start a line of his own, Iwaya for Dress33.
Iwaya added his age last year — 33 — as an extra charm, but it wasn't luck that got him through his first show in the Paris spring/summer 2009 collections favorably. For anyone looking for excitement, it comes as a relief that Dress33's debut collection didn't stray from its usual cacophonous mix of glitz and everyday wear. It goes without saying that Iwaya's design style is not for the faint of heart: Think of a grown-up Shibuya gal with money to spend and a penchant for glamorous nights that turn quickly into days. A toga became a dress with zebra stripes and giant pressed pleats that was finished with swooping, metallic drapes. Iwaya also showed menswear, including three-piece suits that tended a smidgen toward dapper but were sprinkled liberally with graphic prints or gold bling.
There's obviously a certain kind of customer that Iwaya courts (especially considering a dress may cost upwards of ¥500,000), and now there's no doubt Dress33 can provide the flash they need to feed their fashion addictions. (Misha Janette)
Ever been mesmerized by those naughty American Apparel ads? Then thank Yasumasa "Yone" Yonehara, who inadvertently (and unknowingly) inspired them. Yone, despite being a self-professed "nonphotographer," is perhaps the most prolific snapper in the world of Japanese pop culture today.
The photographer cultivated his raw style early on by shooting with only Polaroid and Fuji Film's Cheki instant cameras, which he found loosened up the girls who were to be his subjects. The results are naturalistic, brazen photos of pretty young things who play a coy and sexually charged game with the camera. Recently Yone's works featured in culture magazine Dazed & Confused Japan's series "Talking About Her Sex," which includes suggestive Polaroid shots of Japanese idols and stars.
Yone is holding a solo exhibition titled "Quolomo Yone" that is running through Feb. 28 at Shibuya Parco. The exhibition will feature photos of models Sora Aoi, Yuuki Maomi, You Hirukawa, Keiko Wakita and Mikiko Yano. There is also a line of collectible T-shirts with prints of the photos available. (Misha Janette)
A new jewel for Ginza's crown
The logo for French jeweler Mauboussin is a skewed four-pointed star that looks like a bird — one that could easily represent any bauble-hungry woman whipped into euphoria as she lays her eyes on the brand's sparkling, colored trinkets.
Mauboussin, based at the Hotel de Vendôme in Paris for over 180 years, finally opened a flagship store in Tokyo's Ginza district on Feb. 6. The three-story boutique comes hot on the heels of its first New York shop on Madison Avenue last fall, with another in the works soon for Singapore as part of a long-planned expansion for the brand.
The Tokyo shop is a departure from its usual European aesthetics, with a modern all-glass facade and one wall playfully decorated with balloons and rabbits by Paris-based painter Aki Kuroda. In 2005, Kuroda was included in Newsweek's annual list of the "100 Japanese people respected by the world," and his bubbly drawings complement well the planetary-size gemstones that are known to cause giddy fits among female fans (it's rumored that Marlene Dietrich had her own direct phone line to the New York store).
Mauboussin touts itself as being for the "woman who buys jewelry for herself, instead of waiting for a man to give it to her," and there's plenty of airy seating space in the shop for a lady to yield herself to the altar of luxe. (Misha Janette)
5-7-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku; (03) 5537-0650; www.mauboussin.com