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At the Corner of Art and Fashion

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As Fashion Week Tokyo (See our Publisher’s picks) has loomed onto the horizon, we wanted to take a moment to consider how fashion and art intersect in one of our favorite cities.

It’s become almost commonplace for art museums to feature exhibitions of the work of major fashion designers. It’s a win-win-win for everyone. The shows inevitably draw huge crowds to the museum, the designer’s profile is enhanced, and thousands of people have access to couture clothes they might never get to see up close.

Now designers in Tokyo are turning this process on its head by installing art in their stores.

The sheer volume of commerce demands some kind of differentiator. Last year retail sales in Tokyo topped $150 billion. The plethora of shops in the Ginza, Harajuku and Omotesando make these must-see destinations for shoppers while simultaneously increasing the difficulty of any one store to stand out.

Add to that the fact that Tokyo has taken fashion to such an extreme, forcing designers to push boundaries even farther, that it’s difficult to create a distinctive – let alone fashionably edgy – persona.

In order to set themselves apart and enhance the customer experience, designers including Hermès, Prada, Agnès b and Shiseido feature art showrooms in their flagship stores. In addition, Prada’s lacquered white interior receives a boost in ambience with a unique “Sound Shower” installation from Fashion DJ Frederic Sanchez.

Other designers rely on architects and interior designers to create a space that is a work of art in itself.

For example, when Neil Barrett decided to open a flagship store in Tokyo, he turned to Zaha Hadid who turned the store into an interpretation of Barrett’s designs. By incorporating folds, cut-outs and pleats into the physical design of the store, he melded architecture with sculpture and fine art.

Brazilian designer Alexandre Herchovitz went extra bold with the help of Arthur Casas who created a façade of Formica tiles that can be changed seasonally to support and represent the collection within.

So the next time you’re in Tokyo, combine two of our favorite activities by going gallery hopping – in your favorite designer’s store.


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