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Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011

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KEIICHI NITTA PHOTO

STYLE WISE

Fashion Week action happening on more than just runways


Tokyo's MBFW festivities

It's mid-Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Tokyo (MBFW Tokyo) and there's still an array of snazzy events to carry you through to the end while keeping you fashionable. So roll up your best, pressed sleeves and read on.

The first event you should hit is Tokyo Vansankai, which gets its name from the word "bansankai," meaning "supper party." It's an evening-to-night event featuring various guests and the work of some of the biggest movers and shakers in Tokyo's art and fashion scene.

The highlight is an appearance by the eccentric photographer Keiichi Nitta, who has shot just about everyone who's anyone and always has the energy to shoot more. After assisting the revered New York-based fashion and celebrity photographer Terry Richardson, Nitta returned to Tokyo in 2006 and developed his own style of expressive imagery.

Also on the roster is the artistically experimental trio Tenki — fashion designer Takayuki Suzuki, stylist Shinichi Miter and "stain" artist Shukou Tsuchiya — whose awe-inspiring installations involve a mix of ethereal fashion with minimalist art. Their last piece was a transparent, illuminated dress so tall that it reached the ceiling of a warehouse.

Photos by fashion bloggers and event organizers Dan Bailey and Joe Kazuaki of Tokyo Dandy will also be on show alongside contributions from high-end magazine Numero Tokyo, creative hair team The Oversea, artist Nicky Roehreke and more.

Aptly being held at Tabloid, a disused newspaper printing warehouse that was converted last year into a vast gallery and party space, Tokyo Vansankai aims to look at fashion, media and art in a new light. It's a bit of a trek to its location at Hinode, but there will be DJs and food waiting for you — and it's free.

Tokyo Vansankai at Tabloid kicked off Monday night and runs through Wed., open Tue. 7-10 p.m. and Wed. 6-9 p.m. Tabloid: 2-6-24 Kaigan, Minato-ku; (03)-6435-3446; www.tokyovansankai.com.

What to wear to the parties

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Fashion Week is really a preview of what's to hit stores in six month's time, so what do you do if it gives you the urge to shop right away? Head to Shibuya this Friday, Oct. 21, for the first Shibuya Fashion Festival, which is essentially a huge shopping block party.

More than 140 stores along the stretch between the Harajuku and Shibuya districts of Tokyo will be participating in the festival by offering their customers special deals and discounts. All the biggies and small boutiques are taking part, including Beams, 0101, Parco, Laforet, and street-fashion favorite Candy.

Harajuku-born model-cum-singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu — of the 6-million hits Youtube sensation "PonPonPon" — will be on hand throughout the event making special personal appearances to give fashion fans a dose of her twisted version of Tokyo. Akihabara-style designer Mikio Sakabe has also announced that he will reveal his newest collection at the festival, possibly as a live procession through the streets. Menswear brand Sise, meanwhile, has created a short film for their spring/summer 2012 collection, which screens for free at Shibuya Cinema Rise.

All of the night's revelries can be viewed online at Tokyo Fashion Film (www.tokyofashionfilm.com), which is archiving and streaming many of this week's runway shows.

When all this ends at 11 p.m., mosey on over to club Ever in the Aoyama district and cap off fashion week at its official party, "Small Wonder." DJs include Harajuku-boy-turned-idol 2Boy and other fashion mainstays, who will be playing the best dance music to see the night through (disclosure: Yours truly will be taking a turn in the lounge).

Small Wonder starts at 10 p.m. on Oct. 21; tokyo-mbfashionweek.com/en/the13th/event/20_smallwonder. For more on the Shibuya Fashion Festival, visit www.shibuyafashionfestival.com.

Battle of the brands

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Are you ready to rumble?: Phenomenon AW 2011

MBFW Tokyo runway shows are not open to the public, but there is one event that is, and it's well worth checking out. Versus Tokyo, on Oct. 22, is a sartorial "battle" of brands, where eight popular brands will compete against each other with their best creations. The lineup consists of some of the best that Tokyo has to offer: Mastermind Japan, Phenomenon, Soe, Facetasm, Discovered, 0SzASQUATCHfabrix, Whiz Limited and Plumpynuts.

Competition will be tough: Mastermind Japan, which is one of the most successful Japanese menswear brands of the last decade, is presenting its collection in Tokyo for the first time in six years and will continue to do so until its final show when the brand closes in 2013. Phenomenon, with it's ingenious street-meets-high-fashion style, too, has been one of the most-watched labels of the past few years. And we can't rule out the feminine-tinged designs of Discovered, the meticulous tailoring of Soe or the lone womenswear brand Plumpynuts, which will be holding its first and last live fashion show here.

It's a 10-hour event that includes runway shows, installations, live performances and some promised surprises. Unfortunately, the shows are now fully booked, but 100 tickets will be given out by lottery at the Tokyo Midtown venue two hours prior to each show — and waiting is a small price to pay for a peek into the exclusive world of fashion.

For more information, visit tokyo-mbfashionweek.com/en/news/release/227.

Outside the MBFW box

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Fashion soldiers on: An ensemble by SASQUATCHfabrix, one of the brands showing at Art Gallery Tokyo Opera City.

If the MBFW Tokyo brouhaha is getting a bit much for you but you still have fashion on the mind, then Art Gallery Tokyo Opera City's new exhibition, "Feel and Think: A New Era of Tokyo Fashion," could be a quieter way to see innovative design.

Organized in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake's effect on the fashion industry, this exhibition brings together 10 of today's most creative Tokyo-based brands. Designers here not only push the boundaries of sartorial cuts and shapes, but they also have new ideas on trends and fashion philosophy.

You'll find rule-breakers here, such as Anrealage, which picked up the Mainichi Fashion Grand Prix award this year for Best Brand with its recent collection sporting pixellated patterns, and Keisuke Kanda, who leads the otaku (passionate hobbyist, in this case for manga) fashion movement with lighthearted, yet sometimes twisted, motifs and designs. Along the lines of a more subtle Japanese aesthetic are Matohu's traditional-cum-modern draped looks and textiles master Mina Perhonen. Somarta brings some high-tech wizardry with its seamless knitwear, and the quirky looks of Mint Designs are contrasted with the quaint ones of Theatre Products. Tokyo street fashion is also included, with garments from goth-lolita superpower h.Naoto and street-punk label SASQUATCHfabrix.

One of the most interesting brands has to be Writtenafterwards, which controversially straddles the fence between art and fashion with its "non-fashion" fashion shows exhibiting almost unwearable items.

"Feel and Think: A new Era of Tokyo Fashion" runs till Dec. 25, with talk shows scheduled throughout. For more information, visit www.operacity.jp/en.

From fashion designers to VJs, the Shibuya Culture Festival introduces 100 creative women in Japan

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Female leads: Unusual designs from Sheuh Jen-Fang's Jenny Fax collection. © JENNY FAX

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Tokyo shows officially end on Oct. 22, but fashion events don't end there! If you want to keep on going, the Parco shopping center in Shibuya is holding its Shibuya Culture Festival from Oct. 28 to Nov. 11. One hundred creative women will be the stars of the week, and their professions run the gamut from visual DJs and artists, to performers and idols.

Headlining the fashion arena is Jenny Fax, a brand by Mikio Sakabe's other half, Shueh Jen-Fang. It's the first big push for Jen-Fang's own label, and a welcome move from the designer whose sweet yet slightly perverse style translates well in her designs. Accessories labels are also in abundance at this event, with some great unique pieces to be found. Check out the funky use of bouncy balls, which have been melted into necklaces from Harcoza.

Visual artists include Onnacodomo, a trio who create narratives on screen by placing objects on a projector and moving them to music. And when it comes to music, the lineup is vast, including the Twee Grrrls Club; breakout highschooler band Ziyoou-Vachi with the fashion-darling cross-dressing vocalist Avu; and Denpa Gumi Inc., who are popular costume-play idols from Akihabara.

The face of this event is the beautiful Ellie from art group Chim↑Pom, who made headlines this year by creating a panel depicting two burning nuclear power plants and adding it to Taro Okamoto's famous "Myth of Tomorrow" painting at Shibuya Station. She is sure to bring an added spark to the already powerful lineup.

The events are free, so take the opportunity to drop in for a peek.

Shibuya Culture Festival takes place at various Parco Shibuya venues. For details, see www.shibukaru.com.


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