Nozomi Ishiguro 2011/12 Haute Couture collection

One of the Japan Fashion Week shows I that most wanted to see, which was rescheduled for April 15th was Nozomi Ishiguro.

That the collection was Autumn/Winter made it no surprise that fur and shearling was used liberally – but in surprising ways and with splashes of colour that proved Winter doesn’t have to be about grey and black. Bright corals and reds add pops of vibrant delicious colour with hints of regal majesty.

Rich in textural detail, outfits featured shearling skirts and long shaggy shearling boots bound with buckles, but paired with lace leggings for lightness and contrast. Knitwear is artfully distressed, as if unravelled through wear and perhaps battle.

Ishiguro used quilting to great effect, lending a futurist almost cyber look even when paired with shearling or folk details. It reminds me of Burberry Prorsum’s biker pants and jackets, except Ishiguro takes it a step further, fashioning almost a breastplate in the men’s jacket – instant six-pack, anyone?

The warrior armour motif continues in the men’s looks with the use of metallic blacks & greys, luxe silver knit that signifies chain-mail, fur pant overlays and totemic tribal touches – although the tall pilgrim hats on some models seem at odds with the theme to me.

Overall there was a Mongolian warrior meets the 21st century theme. I loved the long shaggy fur coats and boots, but found the furry flat shoes less successful.

Even the ubiquitous camel coloured coat is given an edgy makeover in Ishiguro’s hands, when paired with an intricate belt as befitting an urban warrior, as well as sequinned lapels, a lacy ethereal blouse and drapy pants. Likewise a camel knit skirt is unravelled and paired with an intricate folk print jacket – and platform stripper shoes! There is nothing safe about the use of camel in this collection.

One of my absolute favourite looks is the black and white striped confection below, for its Tim-Burton like aesthetic and its kookiness. Even just the headscarf alone, with the shaggy fur tufting up like a bleached dread mohawk, is intriguing, although I can’t see anyone rushing out to buy the dress with the half fur/half knit skirt – or are they pants?

There are numerous looks to love, as well as a few to ponder over. The folk-futurism of the collection is certainly memorable if not always wearable. What do you think? What are your favourite looks, that you’d wear (if money were no object?)

* Photos from Fashion Snap, but you can see the entire collection at the Nozomi Ishiguro website.

Cool places in Shimokita & Koenji (or how I went looking for ‘Dog’ & found God instead)

While looking at pics from my recent trip and trying to decide what to post, it came to my attention that I still have photos from my July trip last year that I haven’t posted or written about!

One of the things I love most when in Tokyo is just walking around different neighbourhoods with some friends and seeing what we find. And so in late July, I met up with friends Utarou and Aki, and went to Shimokitazawa and Koenji.

Shimokitazawa is one of my fave places in Tokyo, and I’ve written about Shimokita here . 2 weeks ago I attended two gigs at the Shimokita Garden, seeing the Cherry Cokes one night, and 13th Moon the next, so stay tuned for posts on those.

A close-up of my outfit shows the Stigmata corset better (vintage, from Closet Child, back from the time when Kenzo-A was one of the designers). You can *just* see the white ribcage necklace from Destroy-X. Utarou and I are both friends of Amelia, and we both turned up wearing Angelspit/Destroy-X products! The railway station entrance always seems to be under construction – maybe one day it’ll be finished.

 

Firstly we attended the “Footprint” travel photography exhibition held in a Shimokita bookshop/cafe called Free Factory :

The walls were left in their rustic unfinished state, lending a decaying urban loft feel to the place:

Here’s the lovely Utarou, singer of Japanese industrial/cyberpunk band Baal (see my Baal post for more), wearing an Angelspit tank top. Alas, while leaning forward to talk to her while having coffee, my ribcage necklace snapped! Woe..

 

The Free Factory is a groovy place to hang out, and a lot more atmospheric than the ubiquitous chain coffee houses you see scattered about Tokyo. It often has interesting exhibitions too, so if you’re in Shimo, check it out. See the Free Factory website for more.

Then it was off to explore the many intriguing shops in Shimokita. There are a  lot of vintage shops nestled alongside boutiques, cafes, restaurants, bargain shops, chemists etc, so it’s always fun to get lost in the alleyways. One of my faves is the “Grown Up Tabatha” hat shop (almost opposite which is the Shimokita Garden live house)

Note the snapped necklace with only upper ribcage left 🙁      Now, Utarou’s turn to pose!

Novelty stores sell such essentials as rubber piglets and chickens, just ripe for the squeezing, with hilarious noises ensuing:

 

Shopping is tiring work, so we had to stop off for some lunch (and no, obvs early afternoon isn’t too early for beer!)

No matter what I order (and I did leave the raw egg alone)…

I always end up getting food envy, and wish I’d ordered what my friend ordered…know the feeling?

Finally we high-tail it over to Koenji, where we just HAVE to pop into Nude n’ Rude, as Aki and Utarou are good friends with Lilian, the owner:

For more info, see my Nude n’ Rude post here.

Then it was time to go and look for the elusive “Dog” store in the Kita Kore building. My friends didn’t know about it, and so we went searching only armed with a map. We finally spied the signatory puffer jackets/suits hanging near the building, and I went inside the decrepit Kita Kore building to have a look…but alas, Dog was closed! Only open on weekends – dang!

Ah well, the nearby Nincompoop Capacity shop was open, so up the stairs we went to investigate, spotting some psychedelic artwork on the wall on the way up:

 

At the top of the landing, one could see an amazing gelato-coloured lounge setting on the rooftop (complete with oversized ice-cream cone – why?), as well as numerous death-trap wiring scenarios:

And then I found God.

Heh, well, I just wanted to write that. The word “God” was attached to the door – apparently used as a clothes hanger.

Inside was an interestingly curated and fairly punk collection of clothing – note the teddy bears on the kimono-looking jacket on the door, inches away from a skull print.   There was a gorgeous little dog inside too, so I had to have a little pat and show some puppy love <3

I was polite & didn’t take pics inside…but Made with Japan went at the end of the year and interviewed the Nincompoop Capacity designers – go have a read! Or have a look at the Nincompoop Capacity website.

So I failed spectacularly to check out Dog, and lacked time on this last visit. One for 2012, I guess!

I know Tokyo Telephone will be featuring the store soon in their blog, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Have you managed to see Dog, whether the Koenji or Harajuku store?

Neon Brights & Coloured Tights

I have been vastly influenced by the neon brights and colour blocking coming off the runway at the various Fashion Weeks, already filtering down to the high street (albeit slowly). And so it was on my o/s trip that I went searching for some neon staples, if you will; some brightly coloured mainstays and accessories to zoozh up my impending fall/winter wardrobe. (Let’s face it; I often buy a lot of black, even on my Japan trips).

As mentioned in a previous post, I managed to find a pink faux-leather biker jacket from Sasch on level 5 of Noon Square, Myeong-Dong, Seoul, as well as  a glorious orange skirt with great pocket detailing from Zara, also in Noon Square.

   

 

Next up I went shopping for bright footwear….once again in Seoul, but this time in Hongdae, right near where I was staying. One was a pair of that yellow-green colour platform shoes, with contrast faux animal skin.

  

And the other pair were coral heels with a slight platform in front, again in the faux fish or snakeskin.  They went really well with the pink and orange outfit, being a shade between the other two.

  

So that shows you can buy cool things in Seoul – mind you, I really had to look for them! Well, in Hongdae there are a lot of great boutiques and shoe stores, but in some of the shopping malls, it was hard to find the middle ground between high end items and budget/nasty ones. For me, Level 5 of Noon Square was one of the best.

Moving onto Osaka, from Love Boat I bought a groovy turquoise biker jacket, and a neon yellow-green transparent cincher:

  

While in the bag department, at OPA I nabbed a leopard print beauty with orange trim – to go with my orange and pink outfit, natch!

 

The store I bought it from was “Dith” – you can buy the label through Rakuten – Dith store here.

I spied some great wide belts in bright colours at Salire in Osaka….and so when I got to Tokyo, nabbed a few at Salire in Lumine Est, Shinjuku.

 

But I did buy at least one item from Marui One…on sale at Yosuke USA I fell for this purple suede pair of vintage looking boots, from the Leche line. They’ll work nicely with a victorian or Dolly Kei look. A size 24 or medium, is still available on sale at Rakuten.

And finally, the tights. There was a shop in Shibuya 109 that had soooo many patterned tights, I was in heaven. Not only the infamous Celeste Stein, but also a brand called Look from London. At around $45 each, they weren’t cheap, but I can’t find these in Australia.

Of course they look better out of the packet, so here they are.

 

Obviously flat products don’t look very exciting, but I’ll be using these in upcoming outfit posts..although some are still coming over from Japan in boxes, sent so I wouldn’t have excess baggage. What are your faves, or ones you’d like to see me put in an outfit?

How far will you go for fashion?

Most of us who are style and fashion bloggers are just ever-so-slightly obsessed with our aspect of fashion, be it couture, high street, looks-for-less, vintage, DIY, passion for shoes, Japanese style, gothic, gyaru, mori, dolly kei etc.

For many, too, going to Fashion Week is the highlight of the year, the must-do above all must-do’s. I know of those in the the US who have braved blizzards, delayed flights, long train rides etc just to get there. In Australia we don’t really have extreme conditions, so this isn’t an issue, but in other countries, variable conditions persist which can make or break a Fashion Week.

I, for the first time, was going to a few shows at a Fashion Week, and was extremely excited, to say the least. I planned exciting and cutting edge outfits as befitting the fashion-forward city it was in, cramming my luggage full to the brim.

Which Fashion Week was it? Japan Fashion Week, in Tokyo. Yeah.

The earthquake occurred on the Friday. My flight left on the Monday, in the morning. What to do?

As I had a 3 day stopover in Seoul, I decided to continue on with my trip, not knowing finally where I would end up, but in my head knowing I’d always end up in Tokyo failing something pretty spectacular.  A series of sensationalist headlines and stories by western media kept me alarmed  –  “70% chance of a big quake occurring again in the first 7 days”, “Nuclear Meltdown Imminent”, “Foreigners Fleeing” etc..

It was enough to make me stay in Seoul a few days longer, each morning glued to my laptop for the latest news. Hoping against hope, I kept waiting for the news to simmer down, so I’d feel OK about continuing on to Fashion Week. After all, years earlier I’d been in Fiji during the political struggles, and I went shopping in Suva THE DAY OF THE COUP, and had no trouble whatsoever (smiling army guys with guns waved the bus through the checkpoints). I still have two great skirts and some Indian jewellery I bought that day, and some pleasant memories. 

But friends who’d lived in Tokyo and knew how far it was from the affected areas, were counselling me not to go, as was my government. Meanwhile, those who elected to stay in Japan were adamant that the western media was over-sensationalising the situation in Tokyo itself.  So I was truly perplexed. But it’s FASHION WEEK, dammit!! Was it really forbidden fruit, or a perfectly edible apple?
.

And then Japan Fashion Week was cancelled. Oh, the devastation.

What to do now? I could cancel the rest of the trip – or make the best of a bad situation. So I checked out the fashion and sights of Seoul. Then I thought, bugger it, why not fly into Osaka? It’s still Japan, and I’ll get to keep up with the latest fashion offerings, see some gigs and meet up with friends.  And so I did.

In Seoul and Osaka I bought some great faux-leather biker jackets in bright colours like turquoise and pink, and fantastic bright platform shoes.  I saw bands I otherwise never would have, found great neighbourhoods, meet new people.  After a few days in Osaka, and with Tokyo friends assuring me the inner city was perfectly liveable if a bit quieter than normal, I decided to fly on. And had a really enjoyable, if too brief, time.

Would I have even left Australia had Fashion Week been cancelled earlier? Possibly not. As I go to Tokyo each year anyway, I do think I would have postponed the trip. But as it happened straight after the quake, I had no time to think.

I certainly wouldn’t have packed absurd things like my silver brocade turban, Chrome Rats (right) or D Squared spine heel shoes (see my hanging rack of clothes-for-Japan-fashion-week here).

For me, fashion and travel are often largely combined. Especially in the case of a Fashion Week or some other style event, the need to be there becomes more important. In the end, it was a belief that my safety wouldn’t be compromised by being there for a short time, that made me go. 

But I may well have postponed, as I said, had there not been the many fashion events initially lined up. The invitations now coming in for the various designers’ fashion shows that have been rescheduled leave a bitter taste in my mouth, as I cannot pick up and go again later this month or next. The finances need to recover, so even the JFW later this year is out. Ah well, maybe next year….

But enough of me. What about you? Have you ever had to reconsider or change plans involving fashion, due to unforeseen events? Did the love of fashion have any bearing on your decision? Do you travel far in your pursuit of fashion blogging or marketing opportunities, or Fashion Week?  What hardships have you endured or be willing to endure, for a Fashion Week? How far would you go for fashion?

Tokyo’s doing just fine, thanks!

My Tokyo trip has been both revelatory and mystifying; my only regret being that I listened to scaremongerers and shortened my stay in Tokyo itself. 

Whilst the western media and hysterical people listening to the western media have been shrieking at us to “for god’s sake, get out” or “for god’s sake, don’t go!”, Tokyo itself has been dusting itself off, getting back on its feet and going back about its business, thank you very much. In no way wishing to minimise the devastation wreaked on parts of Japan, let’s remember that Tokyo is not Fukushima or Miyagi.

We read there were food shortages, with terrified people scrambling for dwindling supplies. Uh, not in inner Tokyo. I lived in Shinjuku, where kombini’s are plentiful anyway, so odds on if what you want isn’t in one of them, it’ll be in another. See for yourself:

 

It was bottled WATER that people were still buying up big on when I first arrived a bit over a week ago, as you can see in this pic:

I too fell for this one, until a friend sent me info indicating that though radiation levels were higher than normal, they were still less than in Austria.

* In terms of public transport, the trains on the Yamanote Line were as accurate as they ever were, although some lines were running at less than 100%.

* Blackouts? Not in inner Tokyo. I had one only in my hotel due to them renovating. My friend who lives in Ikebukuro said they were still waiting for their first power outage.

*However, there were lots of power saving efforts in evidence: no pictures initially on Studio Alta, Yunika Building in Shinjuku or the infamous Shibuya crossing.  This Monday though, Alta and Yunika had their images back. Stores were also closing earlier at night, like 7.30pm instead of 9 or 10pm, so that less electrical lighting was needed to illuminate the store. Little stores, eateries and pubs likewise had dimmer lighting. Everyone was doing their bit so a big blackout wasn’t neeeded.

* There were less hosts on the street, and slightly less people in Kabukicho when I first arrived, but last weekend saw numbers of partyers in the streets of Kabukicho back to somewhere near normal levels.

There’s a lot more I could write about, and will, but I wanted to just let people know that Tokyo itself is NOT a disaster zone, & I’m still mystified as why the aussie government is till advising not to go. I myself am very glad I did, and just wish I’d gone earlier.