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Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012

STYLE WISE

Fashion's Night Out hits Japan's second-largest city, with another all-star cast of names


By MISHA JANETTE and SAMUEL THOMAS

The popular Fashion's Night Out festival — helmed by Vogue magazine and held in the top fashion cities of the world every September — is about to be replicated in Osaka, Japan's second-largest city.

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Taking Osaka by storm: Vogue Japan fashion director at large, Anna Dello Russo will be a special guest at Osaka's Fashion's Night Out event. RYUSUKE HAYASHI

Taking place on Dec. 15 inside the city's sprawling Umeda Hankyu department store, the festivities will start at 2 p.m. with supermodel Ai Tominaga and Vogue Japan Editor in Chief Mitsuko Watanabe hosting the opening ceremony.

There will also be a special appearance by one of the world's most popular and prominent fashionistas, Vogue Japan's very own fashion director at large, Anna Dello Russo from Italy, while celebrity photographer Leslie Kee will be there to make sure everyone gets snapped.

Guests are free to wander among the myriad activities that include runway shows by a bevy of high-fashion brands such as Etro, Y-3 and Salvatore Ferragamo. Chloe, Emilio Pucci, Tom Ford, Fendi, Gucci, Valentino and Dior, among others, will also hold model presentations and talk shows. Even the designer from Jimmy Choo will be on hand to greet fans — in fact, it is shaping up to be as, if not at least as exciting as the Tokyo FNO.

The idea is to draw interest from outside Kansai region and attract visitors from the deep south and far north of Japan. All activities are free and the event runs in the main building, the children's floor and in the men's annex until 9 p.m. (Misha Janette)

Umeda Hankyu, 8-7 Kakudacho, Kita-ku, Osaka; (06) 6361-1381 www.vogue.co.jp/fno.

Will the American Eagle soar?

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Just when you thought there were no more large, American casual mid-priced brands left to try their hand at conquering Japan, American Eagle Outfitters (AE) swoops in with talons bared, ready for action.

On Dec 21, the brand will open its largest flagship, a three-story mega-shop in the new Ikebukuro Square complex near Sunshine 60. The shop will carry both menswear and womenswear, as well as a sleep- and comfort-wear line called Aerie. Customers who arrive early may be able to pick up novelty gifts, which include gloves, earmuffs and knitted hats.

This is the fourth American Eagle Outfitters store in Japan — with the first one launching with a splash at the new Tokyu Plaza complex in Harajuku earlier this year, and the Lalaport Tokyo Bay Mall and Daiba City Mall in Odaiba quickly following. Expectations are high for the brand, which looks to be particularly profitable, since some of Japan's youth appear obsessed with American casual styles — there's even a name for it: Ame-kaji, a take on "American casual." Local brands, however, have found ways to translate such styles into clothing that suits Ame-kaji fans, perhaps even better than those from the United States. So, while the growth of AE has been impressively quick, only time will tell if it will not succumb to the fate of similar brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, which is now struggling to keep the public interested. (M.J.)

American Eagle Outfitters, 1-14-1 Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo; |(03) 5928-4770; www.ae.com.

The Tokyo fashion underground steps into the digital realm

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© NQ GAMES CO.,LTD/ GRAVITY CO., LTD. / GUNGHO ONLINE ENTERTAINMENT, INC.

Christian Dada is probably best known for dressing Lady Gaga and Korean supergroup Big Bang, sothe latest venture by the brand's designer, Masanori Morikawa, as costume designer for the popular online shooting game "Toy Wars" by GungHo Entertainment comes as a surprise. The move has been helmed by the Shibuya boutique Fake Tokyo and includes, alongside Christian Dada, collaborations with cult underground brands Phiz and 99%IS.

The brands' contributions to the game extend from avatar fashion to customizable costume elements and weaponry — and they're designed so that players can coordinate entire outfits. Free from the restrictions of reality, the designers have clearly had fun and created some outlandish pieces that even Lady Gaga would struggle to wear. These are limited-edition virtual goods and are only available until Dec. 28 via the "Toy Wars" website.

This collaboration comes hot on the heels of Louis Vuitton's artistic director Marc Jacobs' costume design for the digital idol and video-game star Hatsune Miku, one of an increasing number of crossovers between previously disparate media. As head of PR at Fake Tokyo, Shogo Yanagi, puts it: "From here on we want to play a bigger part in this mix of this 2.5D anime and fashion culture and through it discover new possibilities in fashion." (Samuel Thomas)

Fake Tokyo, 18-4 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; www.faketokyo.com. Toy Wars: toywars.gungho.jp.

Anrealage: Ten years of experimental and innovative fashion

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Anrealage is a bizarre dark horse of the Japanese fashion industry, but the brand's past 10 years of relentless dedication to fusing experimentation and technology with couture techniques is finally pushing it to the front of the runway pack.

Recently it has garnered acclaim across the globe with journalists and popular fashion-bloggers, such as Tommy Ton and Susie Bubble, singing its praises. For now, though, Tokyo remains Anrealage's home, and for its 10th anniversary it's releasing two books here — one, "A Real Un Real," is a chronicle of its collections through the dreamy and artistic photography of Yoshiyuki Okuyama; the other, "Age," is more textual and features interviews with some of the country's most prominent fashion journalists, including Takeji Hirakawa.

Fans can also get an upclose look at Anrealage's work at an exhibition in the Shibuya Parco museum, which runs till Dec 25. During this time, a pop-up shop will offer various Anrealage items. Both are must-sees for anyone interested in the kind of experimental work that first put Japanese designers on the map 30 years ago. Anrealage utilizes laser cutting, visual illusion, patchwork, digital prints and other unusual techniques to assemble collections that put the "wonder" back into wonderful.

There are a few talk shows and meet-and-greets scheduled throughout the show's run, so keep an eye on the schedule if you'd like the chance to meet Anrealage designer Kunihiko Morinaga. (M.J.)

Parco Museum, 15-1 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; (03) 3477-5873; www.parco-art.com.

Comme des Garcons' Rei Kawakubo reintroduces Taro Okamoto for quite the art explosion

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Art statement: Taro Okamoto's motto "Art is explosion" welcomes shoppers to the Comme des Garcons Aoyama store. SAMUEL THOMAS

In defiance of the conventional Christmas decorations sprouting up in the windows of the glamorous fashion flagships of Tokyo, Rei Kawakubo's ever-contrary brand Comme des Garcons enters the holiday season with its interiors chaotically redesigned in the style of artist Okamoto Taro. The redesign and collaboration will spread to some degree to each of the Comme des Garcons stores in Japan, and worldwide, but the hub of the project remains the Aoyama flagship, the decoration of which was overseen by Kawakubo herself in homage to the legacy of Okamoto, whose old Tokyo home (now a museum) is just a stone's throw away.

Amid the rubble-themed interior and placards touting Okamoto's motto, "Art is explosion," the collaboration extends to a range of clothing, accessories and footwear — all embellished with the artist's iconic imagery. The items, which went on sale on Dec. 1, include T-shirts from the diffusion line "PLAY Comme des Garcons," going for as little as ¥8,000, as well as ideal gift options such as tote bags and watches at around ¥15,000 and avant-garde Okamoto print scarves for ¥26,000.

An unusual addition to the collection is a series of self-assembly chairs, which start off as sheets of cardboard or wood showcasing Okamoto's work, and are then deconstructed in order to become functional chairs. It's a fittingly witty reference to the themes of destruction and rebuilding that Okamoto explored in his lifetime, and one that few other fashion collaborators would have the sensitivity to achieve. (S.T.)

Comme des Garcons Aoyama: 5-2-1 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo; (03) 3406-3951; www.comme-des-garcons.com.


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