A French fashion house shows its pre-autumn collection in Tokyo, a year after the tsunami struck, writes Syida Lizta Amirul Ihsan
IT was a quiet Tuesday afternoon in Ginza, Tokyo’s financial pulse where the old-moneyed make the country’s fortune and Western luxury stores stand on buildings, not shop spaces.
Two years ago, when I first visited the city, it was noisy and colourful along Ginza’s walkways. Today, a year after the devastating tsunami from which the country is still recovering, the feel is sombre and subdued.
There are red and white posters on lamp posts that read: Japan. Thank You, a symbol of the country’s quiet resilience and a show of gratitude to the people who still support its economy.
The year tsunami struck, global and regional fashion events planned in the Japanese capital were cancelled amidst safety fears but soon, the big brands were back, helping to rebuild the market which formed the backbone of the luxury industry.
China may be a booming sector but quality shoppers — those with refined tastes and a sure style sense — still come from this island cluster.
Like the delicate manners of the Japanese, luxury goods are but an extension of the people’s refined identity.
The world’s best butter, macarons and ice-cream are found in this city, where luxury isn’t about showing off, but a way to enjoy the finer side of life.
RISE FROM FALL
So it came as no surprise when the mother of luxury retail — Louis Vuitton — held its pre-autumn 2012 show in this city. After all, this is the market that pushes the sales of its coveted carriers.
Its regional office is in Hong Kong, but nothing beats the pulse and passion of Tokyo-ites, where falsies are as common as mascara and black tights and skinny jeans are standard issues.
In Japan, even day-to-day Pilot pens have seasonal collections. Yes, there is a different set of stationery for spring and winter.
Louis Vuitton would never let its biggest market flounder. Last year, when its Sendai store was struck by the tsunami, renovations and help given to its staff came quick.
A few months later, it opened its art gallery or Espace on the top floor of its Omote sando boutique in Tokyo and showed art pieces by Japanese artists as a show of support for the people of the Land of The Rising Sun.
Like the Japanese, the clothes Marc Jacobs has rolled out this season are kitsch and quirky, pretty much like the Japanese themselves.
Pleats and zippers are abundant and peplum silhouette rules the line. Hemlines are high, so yes, only the long-legged would look great in these.
Military influence and mannish checks balance the femininity of the collection and in the spirit of rebuilding Japan, those manly additions to feminine clothing seem to symbolise resilience and strength of the quiet and polite race, to come back stronger after a fall.
Masculine touches include beige leather biker jacket teamed with powder-camel wool skirt and floral-embroidered dress hidden under silk duchesse bonded jacket.
DASH OF COLOURS
For accessories, what better way to counter gloom and doom than colours? For this collection, colours come in 15 dizzying shades which make these pricey carriers look as delectable as colourful candies... in a stylish way.
The brand’s Epi leather — the one with embossed lines — is re-born in cool colours and styles, from the drawstring Noe to the structured Alma to the cosmetic pouch.
The bags are displayed in a darkened room, so they pop strikingly — like multi-coloured traffic lights — against a black background. It is a bright change to the autumnal tones of the clothes and accessories.
To echo the famous lines of Percy Byshe Shelley, “If winter is here, could spring be far behind?”