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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

STYLE WISE

Mixing and matching wardrobes for Japan's The Reality Show


By MISHA JANETTE and SAMUEL THOMAS

The Reality Show, a Tokyo-based bilingual glossy magazine, is nothing like the TV genre it borrows its name from.

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Or is it? For the photo shoots, a select crew of tastemakers — Japan's newest young generation of fashionistas — are given items from a luxury brand to mix with pieces from their own and friends' wardrobes. Surely that's a splice of fashion fantasy with spontaneous reality?

The lineup of models includes some already well-known names, such as young superstar actress Kiko Mizuhara and DJ Mademoiselle Yulia; while others, such as Yu Akimoto (pictured), who works at fashion boutique Faline in Harajuku, are plucked from seeming obscurity.

For the newly minted third issue, all were given Chanel haute couture to play dress-up with, and as stylish Tokyoites are wont to do, they worked the high-low mix with aplomb.

The Reality Show was founded by California-native Tiffany Godoy, a long-term Tokyo resident and fashion editor who has also authored several books on Harajuku style, including "Style Deficit Disorder" and "Japanese Goth." Under the design direction of Tomoyuki Yonezu, the magazine is an arty vehicle to show off Tokyo's cool potential across the globe.

"I've always been interested in using what I have learned from Japan, what I love about the aesthetics here, and transforming that into something really fresh for an international audience," says Godoy. (Misha Janette)

The Reality Show is available at CANDY, 18-4 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku (03) 5456-9891, and will be released in bookstores this month. www.therealityshow.jp.

The traditional kimono still has a place in Japanese fashion

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Standing against the tide of Westernization that traditional Japanese clothing seems to lose more ground to with each passing season is Jotaro Saito, the sole kimono designer to show at Fashion Week Tokyo.

Saito resolutely sticks to the established conventions of the kimono's cut and structure, yet also adds just enough flair to make his garments progressive without offending traditionalists.

This season's collection, titled Futurism, explores the evolution of the kimono for modern Japan. Innovations include men's kimono cut from thick denim, which creates a strong and quintessentially masculine silhouette thanks to the stiff fabric, snakeskin clutches with 10-cm-long punk spikes for women, as well as sandals covered with a print that, when worn with matching socks, resembles a wedge boot.

Even at its most conservative, the collection makes use of patchwork and tweed, alongside exaggerated traditional Japanese imagery of abstract proportions, broken up with geometric shapes, stripes and even obi belts made of metallic fabrics.

All this was brought to the runway alongside Saito's new furniture line, a collaboration with the homeware company Crown, for a show in which the lines and fabrics of the kimono found their place in a range of upholstered chairs and sofas.

How this tradition will continue remains to be seen, but it will undoubtedly be Saito who shows us the way. (Samuel Thomas).

Jotaro Saito: Roppongi Keyaki Sakadoori 1F, 6-9-1 Roppongi Hills, Roppongi; (03) 3796-101:www.jotaro.net.

Tadashi Shoji: Riding high on 'backwards popularity'

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There's a saying in the fashion industry that the surefire way to find success is through gyakuryu — backwards popularity.

In gyakuryu, a Japanese fashion brand makes waves in the West first, before it is whipped into popularity back in Japan. Issey Miyake benefitted when the French fell for his elegant robes in the 1980s, as did Mastermind Japan when Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld regularly wore its skull-motif accessories.

Tadashi Shoji, a high-end dress designer based in New York, looks to be heading the same way. Although Shoji is not much of a household name in Japan, he has amassed celebrity fans in Hollywood and New York, having made dresses for Naomi Campbell, Paris Hilton and actress Octavia Spencer, who wore his designs to the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe awards this year.

A Sendai native, Shoji moved to Los Angeles as a college student to work with rock-star and celebrity costume-designer Bill Whitten. In 1982 he established his own line that now includes a casual label, a homeware collection and a red-carpet-ready dress line he shows at New York Fashion Week.

Shoji is now opening his first signature store in Japan on the third floor of Mitsukoshi Department Store, Nihonbashi, offering dresses as well as separates that show off the designer's couture-like attention to detail. Not ready to stop there in Asia, he is also opening stores in Beijing and Shanghai. (M.J.)

Tadashi Shoji: Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi 3F, 1-4-1 Nihonbashi-Muromachi, Chuo-ku; (03) 277-3578. www.tadashicollection.com.

A new picture of fashion week

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From April 12-18, four of Japan's most respected fashion photographers will be participating in a free exhibition at Tokyo's Omotesando Hills. Kazuo Oishi, Yoshikazu Masuda, Shinya Nakamura and Chiyoko Higuchi, who have all been officially appointed by Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo, were given free rein to choose any of last year's Tokyo collections unpublished photographs to include in the show.

By letting the photographers select their own images, a different perspective to the spectacle of the fashion show is to be expected — perhaps less focus on clothes and more on the models, setting, theatrics, styling and makeup.

The purpose of the project is to highlight the fantastic recovery we have seen in the fashion industry since the Great East Japan Earthquake, and to give viewers an opportunity to simply stand back and appreciate the peaks of Japanese creativity over the past year.

It is also hoped that the exhibition will act as a portfolio to show off the strength of the Tokyo collections abroad, and seeing as the photographers can count decades of experience shooting in Paris, Milan and New York between them, their opinions and choices are without doubt worth noting.

This exhibition is the first of its kind in Japan — let's hope that it marks a new level of appreciation for the Tokyo collection designers, and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo as a whole. (S.T.)

"Photographer's Tokyo Collection" is at Omotesando Hills, 4-12-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; www.tokyoname.com.

With 27 tenants, Tokyu Plaza, Harajuku's newest shopping mall, is set to draw in crowds

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Tokyo is forever changing, with fashionable neighborhoods often sprouting new landmarks virtually overnight. There's the incredible Tsutaya complex in Daikanyama, the Hikarie tower in Shibuya and now, here comes Harajuku's Tokyu Plaza to serve as a vortex for shoppers.

Opening April 18, Tokyu Plaza replaces the old GAP flagship store on the corner of Meiji-Jingu crosswalk, one of the busiest pedestrian sites in the city. Plans for the building were long shrouded in mystery, and there were even rumors that a Harajuku-themed 109 shopping mall would take root.

Well, those whispers were half-right. The plaza is a mall of 27 tenants, who include Shibuya fashion mainstays Liz Lisa and Moussy, but also an international mix of local fast-fashion brand Loaves and American favorites Tommy Hilfiger and American Eagle, which comes to Japan for the first time.

But will this new complex reach the level of popularity that its predecessor did in the same location? By the looks of the building's incredible and confident design, it is sure to be a hit. The mirrored entrance — a futuristic ice cave with a kaleidoscopic reflections of the crosswalk — is inviting, even if only because it begs to be gawked at. Designed by architect Hiroshi Nakamura, the building also entices visitors inside with its tree-lined roof space that offers plenty of seats and tables for visitor use.

It's a relief to see the construction mess that has been haunting the area for a while come down, but is this new slick mall another step toward the demise of Harajuku and its characteristic street fashion? (M.J.)

Tokyu Plaza; 4-30-3 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Telephone no. and website not yet available.



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