Big in Japan. Louis Vuitton Resort’18

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This is what you call a show. Chanel did a faux Ancient Greece venue at Parisian Grand Palais; Prada took us to Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle’s attic; Dior had its guests see the show in the middle of a Californian canyon. But Nicolas Ghesquiere, and his team at Louis Vuitton, outdid himself. Again. The Miho Museum, a half-hour drive from Kyoto, is one of the most spectacular and out-of-this-world buildings in the world. Designed by I.M. Pei, the architecture of this place reminds you of some utopian space odyssey – and that’s precisely what Nicolas wanted to achieve, sending down a line of futuristic silhouettes with equally futuristic setting in the backdrop.

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*1,2,3. Territory by The Blaze, Indestructible by Robyn (remixed). Just wow.*

Continuing to love Japan and its culture, the creative designer of the French maison did an impressive job in conveying his long-term relation with the country. He found just the right balance, not falling into oriental stereotypes, and what’s worse, cultural appropriation (a frequent problem among other designers). Those were the modern-day, badass attitude samurai girls, wearing over-sized biker jackets with leopard prints, skater shorts and weaved leather vests. Kansai Yamamoto was on Ghesquiere’s mind while designing the collection – that’s the Japanese designer, who dressed David Bowie in glittering jumpsuits and paved the way for Yohji Yamamoto and Kenzo Takada few decades ago in Paris. Now, his bold, artistic legacy gets a revamp according to Vuitton codes. Handbags with Kabuki eyes, prints of local fishermen, a variety of toned colour combinations: Japanese avant-garde of the late 20th century goes slightly more French, more refined. In an effortless, loose way. The collection, in overall, has something of Ghesquiere’s early Balenciaga days. But the designer has already established his language at Louis Vuitton – so it feels just the right way.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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All That Jazz. Undercover SS17

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Jun Takahashi is the designer behind one of the most avant-garde brand originating from Japan – Undercover. Every collection delivered by him is a separate story, subverting the reality of ready-to-wear into something much more sophisticated, nearly magical. For spring-summer 2017, Jun investigated the world of jazz, his favourite music genre. However, it’s not the mood of Chicago musical and sultry-hot “And All That Jazz” song! Saxophones were printed in an old-fashioned, trompe l’oeil-style on t-shirts and wide pants, while the last, spectacular looks were three leather outfits kept in a collage-like patchwork of drums, keyboards and trumpets. A new, fresh glance at a ‘dandy’ – worth considering next spring.

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When in Tokyo with Alessandro

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Alessandro Michele‘s creative narration for Gucci isn’t only reflected in his eccentric collections, but also in campaigns, which are traditionally photographed by Glen Luchford. For autumn-winter 2016, the whole story was set in Tokyo, featuring a ‘dekoratora‘ (a Japanese light truck, obviously), traditional ‘ryokan‘ house and a lot of kawaii moments. There’s a distinct clash between harmony and chaos, modern and traditional, so contrasts which are often messed up by Michele in his collections. But what really makes this Petra Collins-starring campaign great are the old-school, film-like lines which tell us what the youthful, Gucci crowd senses in every moment of being in Tokyo.

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Zenkichi Berlin

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There is a widespread affiliation that if a restaurant serves Japanese cuisine, then it should have sushi in its menu. However, Zenkichi restaurant in Berlin is an exception, as they call themselves a Japanese brasserie – so, there is a focus on variety of Japanese dishes, which is often missed in other “Japanese” restaurants. Zenkichi experience starts at the very entrance to the place – it’s literally a bamboo maze, and every table is hidden in traditional, slightly lighted mini-rooms, with blinds which are put down by the waitress. In other words, I was quite sure that this is what you feel in this type of place in Japan – intimacy, tranquility, peace. This foreshadowed only the good, and indeed, my intuition was right.

The food, served like art, was unbelievably… I don’t how to describe this level of deliciousness. Their seasonal small plates, which are popular among Tokyoites, are recommended to share, while emphasis is put on Omakase (chef’s tasting menu) – it changes every season to showcase the best fish and vegetables available in the market. During my last visit to Zenkichi, I ordered three dishes – sashimi  of fish of the day (salmon, scallop and yellow tail tuna), thinly sliced organic beef tataki served with soy sauce and the one and only hiyashi tsukimi udon – my favourite. This one is quite sophisticated, though – udon noodles in bonito dashi broth, with wakawe seaweed, a soft organic egg (!) and wasabi. Served chilled. Heaven, noting that I’m a number one fan of Japanese pasta!

Drinks are as important as food at Zenkichi, with its rich assortment of rice wine and Japanese whisky. The menu of sake is long, and Zenkichi specializes in junmai, so the pure-rice ones. The free-of-additives sake is initially served cold, however Zenkichi believes that the warmth of the drinker’s hands makes the taste “blossom”, like a cherry tree. Myth? Nope. I totally agree with them, after trying myself.

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If you’re in Berlin, and you are obsessed with Japanese cuisine just like me (but want to try something more than sushi, though) – Zenkichi is the place for you. A must, if you ask me!

Johannisstraße 20 / Berlin