Few months ago I was contacted by the Art Director of Mercedes Benz Magazine, asking to see some of my images of Tokyo. I was thrilled to share and send some of my favorite images of this magnificent city. In fact, I was waiting for the right opportunity to post them. I can’t think of a better mach of these high end images of Tokyo with such a luxury brand such as Mercedes Benz.
The article is about the simplicity of Japanese aesthetics surprisingly to be found in the expensive shopping districts, Omotesando and Ginza, both I had the opportunity to shoot during my 72 hours in Tokyo.
I was curious about Tokyo ever since I watched Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (at age 16).Years later when I watched Lost in Translation my curiosity to this place increased even more.
I finally made it to Tokyo last year in 2012.
I was there for only 72 hours to shoot two articles in a row. And even for a person like me, who lives in the midst of Manhattan for the last 11 years and always thought that New York has it all, after visiting Tokyo, I realized that I was wrong.
Tokyo, mind you, DOES have it all. Imagine New York City but on steroids. This was Tokyo for me.
I’ve always wanted to write about the correlation between Architecture and Haute Couture in Tokyo and how top world-wide architectures design these great buildings for the top world wide fashion designers. I’m so glad I finally got the chance to do it for Sister Magazine in their latest issue (no.6).
One of my closest friends tends to measure her Birthday and the year that passed by the number of places she has visited and the number of people she fell in love with. In other words, a good year for her will be a year well travelled (to some new destinations) and a year she has experienced love or fell in love at least once. When she shared with me this information, I smiled and paused for a second but just because I had to think about her great idea and evaluate my past year according to her standards; Love and new destinations.
Looking back at where I was and what I did and how I celebrated my previous Birthday and having a check point to where I am at now (few days before my birthday) I must admit I have covered quite much of the plan. Yes, I’ve been traveling quite a lot for work or to catch up with family and friends and I met some interesting people.
Last year on my Birthday I packed my camera bag and another Gemini friend (Sharyn) and we went to Nassau, the Bahamas. We both wanted to escape New York for a while. We didn’t want to deal with velvet ropes or high priced drinks as we did in previous years on our Birthdays. Obviously the Bahamas was a great escape, even though I experienced a semi-Tornado storm on the day of my Birthday for the first time in my life.
On the day of our Birthdays we both wrote our goals for the next coming year (sort of a habit we keep). I think Sharyn wrote hers on a piece of paper and shoved it in a beer bottle and then she threw it to the water. I wrote mine on the back of a Murakami’s book I was reading back then. Whereas I am not sure how much did Sharyn complete her list, I think I covered almost 60% of mine.
It has been an exciting year for sure, and even though 60% of my goals were covered, I’ve managed to achieve some extra new ones I didn’t plan before;
I have traveled to some new destinations and came across different and various cultures. I made some new friends. I might even lost some. I tasted new kinds of food I would never imagine I try, not to mention where I found it. I learned how to translate my thoughts and ideas into pictures and words. I struggled with lighting equipment. I started to like negative space. I met and photographed famous people. I got nervous before doing that. I tried to decide what should be in focus. I took blurry pictures. I probably bad worded something up. I got confused more than once because of a guy. I considered getting off facebook few times. I finally gave in to Twitter. I found my name printed in some global websites and magazines. That was exciting! I got impatient so many times. I fell few times while running. I tried to be courageous. I talked to myself while taking the Subway. I took a 24 hour flight (almost non stop). I took a night train all the way from Hanoi to Sapa just to realize there was too much fog for a shoot. I took the midnight train back at the same day. I left my camera bag in the middle of a Starbucks in Tokyo. I watched a lot of French movies. I searched mostly for natural light. I took pictures of the interiors of other peoples homes and actually kind of liked it. I had some second thoughts regarding my unconventional life. I tried to forgive and forget. I had days based on coffee and dark chocolate. I tend to say YES to opportunities that came across and I freaked out when time was moving too fast.
And even though I feel I was quite slow paced the last couple of months, I can’t wait for the new ones to come.
There are those who associate the words ‘Japanese Fashion’ with a Kimono. There are those who would associate the words with Issey Miyake or Yohji Yamamoto, the two well known Japanese fashion designers, and there are those who would come up with the Harajuku Girls phenomena. All associations are true and valid
The Japanese women might be the only ones for whom the world’s most prestigious fashion designers have opened stores in Japan and designed special collections to fit their slim figures and their exquisite taste in Fashion. In the last decade, the number of working women in the age group of 35-45 is only growing stronger, due to the increase in employment opportunities for women and the changes in gender perception. These women are working longer hours, earn more and they want to promote and develop not only their career, but also themselves. They worship everything that has to do with luxury brands and their quality, and they invest a lot of effort, time and money in their appearance. A so-called consumer society.
One of the most influential Fashion companies in Japan, which has a great impact on how the Japanese woman will look, is H.P France. Don’t let the French name fool you; The company was originated in Japan and is now one of the major corporations that imports clothing, shoes, jewelry and fashion accessories of designers from Europe, North and Latin America as well as representing some local Japanese designers.
A brief History: The company was founded in Tokyo in 1984 and opened its first boutique, Lamp in Harajuku. Lamp was a combination of a clothing store and a gallery, showing Art works of young Japanese artists. (This combination was actually the beginning of a concept that combines Art and Fashion together and supports Art projects in various galleries. including the Art gallery in New York and Tokyo under the name HPgrp Gallery). In 1989 the company started working with buyers and fashion designers in France and right after opened an office in Paris, dealing mainly with importing clothes by young designers from France to Japan. A few years later, the company expanded its areas of operations to sell fashion accessories and jewelry and was able to create a buzz among Japanese women.
In 2001 a representative office was opened in New York and the company opened a special department of imported jeans. Among other things, the company began to import brands and young designers clothing from Argentina and Brazil and opened a public relations department to manage its own marketing, which focuses on marketing planning, graphic design, store and window design and maintenance of the company’s Web sites.
H.P France is currently employing approximately 600 employees and represents approximately 40 brands from around the world. It has 54 clothing stores only in Tokyo and additional 34 stores in other areas of Japan, Paris and New York
In addition, H.P. France is responsible for the establishment of a professional guide for manufacturers of fashion and exhibition. It is a great supporter of the Arts and has two galleries (New York and Tokyo) and for the last two years has launched and stood behind Shibuya Fashion Festival, which is the equivalent of Fashion Week in New York, Paris and Milan.
There is a big chance that in one of your subsequent visits to Tokyo, you will come across at least once, one of the 54 stores of H.P France, which are spectacular and inviting. Each boutique has its own unique identity and design. Only the words H.P France below the logo of the store, divulge the origin of the store. Beside the clothing, H.P France has a very popular line of accessories and accessories stores spread across the city. There is also a designated store for the Home, called H.P. Deco, which includes furniture, table ware, pillows, lamps, rugs, you name it.
Fashion Trends: While I was having a guided tour at the company’s headquarters and showroom in Harajuku, where I was walking among countless clothing racks, hangers, and shoes, it felt as discovering a magical treasure of the upcoming Spring-Summer collection, and I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of the upcoming Fashion trends: There is no doubt. It is going to be a quite colorful season or as described by one of the staff, ‘there will be many surprises in terms of combinations of colors, and it will not be boring, for sure’
Bold Pastels: There will be a great use of pink, yellow and turquoise blue colors, as well as lilac purple, mandarine orange, light peach and mint green.
Romantic- Modern style: A combination of classic elements such as floral lace, floral prints, fabrics with rounded trims with waves and geometric patterns together. The trend is to wear only one item or one print of bright color or floral print to create maximum performance.
Retro prints: Such as large flowers, geometric shapes, bright colors and airy patterns. Relaxed and fit
Pleats and pleated fabrics: Mostly skirts and dresses and the use of airy fabrics like chiffon or silk
High Waist: Pants or skirts will be waist high or above the waist, causing the small Japanese women to look taller
Gloss and shiny: A combination of one shiny color item to upgrade and complete the look
It is definitely going to be an interesting Spring and Summer season in Tokyo and I can’t wait to take more pictures.
Living only 5 minutes walk from Harajuku train station, and luckily only 4 minutes away from Starbucks. Walking back and forth along Omotesando every day and finding some really cute boutiques in the alleys near by. Prada building in Aoyama, Comme des Garcons near by and Tod’s building by Toyo Ito. 2 Silver light coats, 2 grey heat-tech undershirts in Uniqlo Shibuya. The massive crowds in Shibuya and miraculously not getting lost in Shibuya train station. Special Tea seminar in Ippodo Tea place in Ginza. Not understanding a word, but enjoying myself to the fullest. Meeting a friend at the Meiji Jingu Harajuku Shrine, just to realize there is a religious ceremony going on. Throwing few coins to ask for a good luck, writing my wishes on a special paper and buying two lucky charms. Sushi for breakfast, Soba noodle soup for Dinner, snacking mochi all the time. Visiting a store for Kimonos only, Window shopping in Ginza. Stationary made of Japanese special paper after looking for the certain store for hours. Harajuku Girls, Harajuku Girls Malls, Harajuku Girls Culture. A must! Having a behind the scenes and a private tour at HP France company; The trendiest clothing company in Tokyo. Meeting new people and turning them into friends. Fish soup, sticky rice, mint chocolate and sweet crepes. Looking up all the time just to be amazed by the beautiful architecture. JR line, Shinjuku station, Quico boutique and tons of beauty salons. Walking in a city of 13 million people and experiencing serendipity quite often. Sleeping only 4 hours a night, just because there is so much to see. Feel like in the movie ‘Lost in Translation’ so many times during the day but still, always finding my way back. Seeing so many places, so many people and squeezing so many great experiences and surprises into 72 hours….Priceless!