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Thursday, March 12, 2009

STYLE WISE

ASCIS sprints stylishly, Van Noten opens in Aoyama, British gems sparkle and Galliano diffuses


By MISHA JANETTE and PAUL McINNES

A Beast on the run in Harajuku

If you thought the pace of Tokyo's Harajuku was already dizzying, just see what happens now that ASICS has opened its megastore for runners in the area's heart.

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"Making Harajuku Sprint!" is the concept, which is targeted toward females, from casual morning joggers to hardcore marathon competitors. The store is state of the art, with 3-D foot scanners, treadmills that analyze your running stride and even in-store lockers for anyone who may want to take a quick lunchtime run.

As putting a fitness shop in Harajuku seems like a contradiction, ASICS knows that it is important to keep in the good graces of the area's cool kids. It has teamed up with Takao Yamashita, designer of cult brand Beauty:Beast, to offer limited-edition running wear.

Yamashita was an early presence on the Harajuku scene and created a loyal following with imaginative and wild creations from the brand he established in 1990. For the collaboration with ASICS, he presents graphic T-shirts, shorts and bright Pop-style workout clothes fashioned from innovative high-tech fabrics.

So run on by if you need to work off all those yummy Harajuku crepes. (Misha Janette)

6-31-17 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; (03) 3498-2626; www.asics.co.jp

A work worth Van Noten

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A hint of high-fashion pizzazz comes to Tokyo next week when Belgian designer Dries Van Noten, one of the celebrated "Antwerp Six" group, which includes Ann Demeulemeester, comes to town to oversee the opening of his new two-floor store in Minami Aoyama.

Opening March 20, the store should be a retail haven for the more discerning and serious European-fashion lover. The latest Aoyama shrine to consumerism will hold the cerebral Belgian's spring/summer 2009 collections, which showcased an elegant, pared-down look for both men and women while preserving the trademark ethnic touches of Van Noten's range of women's accessories.

Designed by interior specialist Gert Voorjans in collaboration with the Dries Van Noten team, the shop features one floor apiece for men and women. Even the artwork on display should make the opening something special: Van Noten gets serious kudos for selecting two paintings by Gerard de Lairesse. The two centerpieces by the Dutch painter and art theorist — who is often compared with 17th-century French artist Nicolas Poussin — will be juxtaposed with monochrome reinterpretations of the paintings by two contemporary Japanese artists. (Paul McInnes)

5-5-4 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku; (03) 5766-8608 (women) and (03) 5766-8607 (men); www.driesvannoten.be

Wut you really really want

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In German, wut is the word for an impulsive or aggressive reaction. Shop director Yann Le Goec chose the term as the emotionally charged theme for his Wut Berlin store, which showcases raw, edgy talent straight from the artistic enclaves of the German capital.

"Sometimes, these people are more like artists or sculptors, rather than just fashion designers," says Le Goec. "I look for creativity and originality on my buying trips. I am not interested in basic items that we can already find in Tokyo."

The Wut boutique moved into a stand-alone shop in Aoyama late last year, and the interior walls are covered in ceramic tiles that melt, are twisted and finally crumble apart the further back into the shop you wander. There's always a new artist, musician or designer on display, and the latest prodigy is Vladimir Karaleev, who started out as a window-display dresser before participating in Berlin's fashion week as a designer in 2006.

Karaleev brought one-of-a-kind reconstructed pieces on his first visit to Tokyo last month .

"You see all these uniquely dressed people here on the streets," Karaleev noted at the time. "You know, if people dressed like that back home, others would shout 'freak!' at them. So it's just amazing to see a country where it's acceptable for people to express themselves."

If artistic fashion is wut you really want, then this place has you covered. (M.J.)

5-1-15 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; (03) 3797-1505; www.hpfrance.com

The jewels of Britain

Paul Smith, Margaret Howell, Vivienne Westwood . . . the list goes on. The British have a long history of fashion invasions in Japan, which continued at last month's trade exhibition titled Rooms in Yoyogi National Stadium. A glamorous group of promising British jewelry designers, supported by London Jewellery Exports and lifestyle company Katsu & Paul, were in attendance to schmooze and charm Japanese buyers and media.

Tomasz Donocik, a Central St. Martin's College graduate and a designer with jewelry companies Stephen Webster, De Beers and Garrard, displayed a selection from his own label's collection, inspired by Mikhail Lermontov's cult 19th-century novel "A Hero of Our Time." His use of unorthodox materials — like horsehair — and key pieces, such as majestic chesterfield belt buckles, have an undoubtedly patrician look and are sure to make him a name to remember.

For the kookier customer, London-based Belgian designer An Alleweireldt impressed with her quirky bracelets made from floppy discs and a pendent created from vinyl records; pop and punk bling from Hatton Garden jeweler William Cheshire stood out; and Katherine Wardropper, whose jewelry is stocked in Tokyo's Vermeerist Beams, had an array of sculptural pieces that have already caught the eye of Italian Vogue. (P.M.)

www.londonjewelleryexports.com

Galliano diffuses

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The affordable "diffusion" lines of high-end brands have quickly gained in popularity in Japan, from Japan-only licensees such as Burberry, Neil Barrett and Christian Lacroix, to international spinoff lines including McQ by Alexander McQueen and Marc by Marc Jacobs. A newer entrant to the more reasonably priced scene is British designer John Galliano, with his Galliano second line.

Galliano is one of the most influential designers today, known for the sexy yet girlish style of his eponymous line, the razor-sharp sense he provides for Christian Dior and the utter outrageousness of his collections for Dior's haute couture selections.

His new Galliano line was first introduced in Paris for the spring/summer 2007 season, and only now is Japan finally getting a shop where fans of his fashionable savoir faire and edgy bohemia can find the collection all under one roof. The latest arrivals from the designer are airy and comfortable, with original prints and high-quality cotton and silk fabrics such as Josette, Peau d'Ange and cotton voile.

The shop is opening in Omotesando Hills as part of the shopping complex's third anniversary and joins two other stores opening for the first time: one from New York-based casual brand Milly and the other the Nordic Scandinavian Design House. (M.J.)

4-12-10 1F Jingumae, Shibuya; (03) 3479-8688; www.johngalliano.com



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