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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Greater Tokyo

Branding artist item idem (aka Cyril Duval) pays tribute to a master...

Yuichi Yoshii is my hero. The young-at-heart creative director of Tokyo's glam-metal retail temple Loveless, as well as the now-defunct Celux store (Louis Vuitton's private VIP salon in Omotesando), has always pushed the limits of Tokyo's shopping scene, at least since I moved here in 2004. I will always remember how enthusiastic he was when, as the freshly appointed fashion director of Tokion Japan, I proposed that I move my office into the Loveless shop window for an entire week. In the performance-art stunt, called THE WRONG OFFICE, I would go about my regular work with my team while also acting as a human advertisement for the magazine. I assembled a giant tableau, which amounted to an organized mess of papers, and it became a huge street success months before Karl Lagerfeld installed his office full of books in a similar project for Paris's Printemps department store.

After almost four years of brilliant creative direction for Loveless, Yoshii san is on the move again, with THE CONTEMPORARY FIX. Using guerrilla vocabulary, he destroyed his former (and popular) Aoyama restaurant, Pariya, keeping only the excavated foundations and adding metal structures from construction sites to create the very raw aesthetic of the new shop. It will change monthly and host various ephemeral projects.

It was a pure satisfaction, but not a surprise, to discover that the first guest in THE CONTEMPORARY FIX's program was renowned Japanese brand Mastermind, notorious for its cultivation of punk sensibilities within a high-fashion environment— their skull-and-crossbones logo appears on almost all of their products. Mastermind finally had their first flagship in Tokyo, if only temporary. On display are all their luxury items, from gold-coated Bearbricks ten times their size to an amazing logo-emblazoned motorbike, the ultimate must-have for wannabe-bosozoku, or Japanese Hell's Angels.

I can't wait to see what else Yoshii san has in store, in terms of both curation and retail design. I can't think of anyone else who's contributed as much to the constant rejuvenation of Tokyo's retail scene, except for Rei Kawakubo, of course, with her experimental space on Kotto Dori in Aoyama that I have seen evolve from colette meets Comme des Garcons (which I helped set up) to Dover Street Market Tokyo. And now comes news of her exciting joint venture with Louis Vuitton, launching in September. Clearly Tokyo is still the world's retail design laboratory.

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

The fourth and final installment from item idem on his SWAP collaboration with Andrea Crews collective...

Looking back, I can say with certainty that we accomplished our mission with SWAP, to express ideas and images through a combination of media: a pop-up shop, a window display, products, performances and blogs. SWAP even appeared in the Fashion Scoops section of Women's Wear Daily, featuring the final state as a window installation at colette. Yet, ironically, these successes might have unraveled the entire SWAP enterprise, because that same window was taken down a day early, following a polite request from Louis Vuitton, who apparently didn't like our reappropriation of their bags.

Far from an attack on Louis Vuitton's image or logotype, the SWAP project was merely an attempt to share ideas through art and fashion. For the six of its seven scheduled days, the window was extremely popular, drawing reactions of all kinds. I remember Andie MacDowell passing by and taking pictures with her mobile phone, while a few minutes later, an elderly woman denounced the window as very ugly. Personally, I am never that interested in good versus bad; I am more focused on the background noise and the intensity of reactions, whatever they may be. I believe this is what the artistic endeavor is all about, to provoke vivid emotions and engender new ways of thinking. Still, despite the early dismantling, Hint remains a fantastic window to express how pleasantly surprised I am to attract Louis Vuitton's attention with our humble project, yet also disappointed that passersby couldn't enjoy SWAP on the last day.

I'd like to thank all the actors and partners of the SWAP project for their generous participation, especially Sarah from colette, whose positive attitude and affection for experimentation is a model for us all. SWAP will be back!

Photos by Baudouin

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

More from item idem on his SWAP collaboration with Andrea Crews collective...

The opening of the SWAP SHOP at Andrea Crews was surreal. The studio is located in the red-light district of Paris, so we were surrounded by sex shops and strip bars with exquisite names like Dirty Dick and Lorelei (which had a facade straight out of Bernhard Willhelm's most Tyrolean dream). Adding to the atmosphere, a fantastic Brazilian wedding was taking place next door in a night club. We managed to have the bride pose with us (in our Louis Vuitton armor) before she got totally drunk and rode off in her wedding car.

Michel Gaubert, in Andrea Crews' Bibi Chignon hat, prepared a great musical selection for Mai Ueda to perform her hits "Don't Call Me Elephant" and "I Want to Buy Some Clothes." He also played a lot of classical music, including Stravinsky, and even some unknown tracks from Dada artist Francis Picabia. Out front, for the pleasure of many Parisian hipsters who stopped by, we set up a trampoline that I had tagged with the copyright symbol and the item idem logo, made from the Nintendo font.

Michel Gaubert, Mai Ueda

The SWAP SHOP was certainly a unique project and probably the shortest pop-up store ever, open for only an afternoon. We all like the idea of a conceptual art and fashion exhibition based on products, not artworks. We also wanted to stage an exhibition with a complex vocabulary and evolution, from its conception months ago to the launch of the SWAP SHOP and the window display at colette, ending with a party at Le Baron. Then, of course, finally immortalized on Hint.

Next, I will show you my SWAP window at colette.

Photos by PLAY

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Friday, April 18, 2008

item idem, with an update on his SWAP collaboration with Andrea Crews collective...

The core of my aesthetic is being slowly, methodically dissected by the Andrea Crews team, while Jean-Michel Bertin, an up-and-coming set designer and collaborator with Louis Vuitton, Lacroix, Pharrell Williams and Justice, is bringing clever and creative solutions to the mix, with a smart understanding of time, space and budget constraints. Currently, we are setting up a gold and black dance floor tile for Mai Ueda to perform on—it's very slick. The rest of the space at SWAP SHOP is full of huge monolithic styrofoam blocks and colorful Louis Vuitton patterns mixed with copyright and anarchy symbols. On April 21, we'll launch our colette window, where we'll display a fleet of rebranded products, including colette stationery, shopping bags, a limited-edition tee, art notebooks (already a must-have!), sunglasses with wigs and a fake Rolex in the shape of a Coke container (inspired by my classic Caniche Courage watch, sold for a long time at colette and Palais de Tokyo). Meanwhile, Laurène Vernet, who heads up the graphic design team of Andrea Crews, has created a new totem—inspired by my emblematical "robo logo"—that will cover an entire wall of the exhibition space. And tomorrow, Andrea Crews founder Maroussia Rebecq will shoot a new outfit produced by her studio and inspired by my latest sculptural piece of clothing: Louis Vuitton bags converted into samurai armor and decorated with TV test patterns. You can see it here. More later!

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An introduction to SWAP by item idem (aka Cyril Duval), a self-described international conceptualist puppeteer...

The last few days in Paris have seen the launch of SWAP, a multi-disciplinary-art-meets-D.I.Y-fashion project, and the brainchild of myself and Maroussia Rebecq of the Parisian fashion collective Andrea Crews. SWAP is a concept rooted in Bernhard Willhelm's boutique in Tokyo (which I had the pleasure of designing) and it started from a simple question: If an artist can create a shop for a fashion designer, can a fashion designer produce an artist's exhibition? Thus, teaming up with retail legend colette, online fashion nexus Hintmag.com, Michel Gaubert and Japanese musician Mai Ueda, SWAP presents no art, appearing only through ephemeral interiors and events that examine the role of the artist through marketing and branding.

Stay tuned for more posts on the evolution of the SWAP project, including the opening of the SWAP SHOP at Andrea Crews (April 19), the spectacular SWAP WINDOW at colette (April 21 - 26) and the SWAP DANCE at Le Baron club.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Part two of Cyril Duval' Art Basel adventures...

Now enough about art, let's talk about the world of glamour and futility—parties! First up, the fete for the fourth edition of Javier Peres' Daddy magazine, hosted by himself, Terence Koh and Aron (the downtown don) in a men's strip club called Goldrush. Seeing the queer mafia in this crappy neon temple, symbolizing Western hetero cowboy power, was actually pretty cool—cute faces all around, no useless celebs showing off, plus everyone got free lap dances, thanks to Daddy Javier. Later, speaking of naughtiness, Monsieur Andre and his Le Baron team again provided the best place for finding trouble. Indeed one could meet almost anyone there, burning the last energy of the day in secret communion before waking up four hours later to buy and sell more art. Then there were parties for Purple, WOW, colette (this pic is of Sarah and myself), etc. So many parties, so little time.

And now, I'm still shocked by how people can throw a party and simply expect people to gather in an ill-designed space. I mean, an open bar isn't everything. Thus, the award for creative laziness goes to Visionaire's party to celebrate its latest art book, despite the hot vinyl records inserted inside, such as my pal Mai Ueda, with her great “I Wanna Buy Some Clothes“ track, and a hilarious backstage compilation by Michel Gaubert. Not only did they settle on MINI as their sponsor (do we care about a toy car gift?), but the doorman was possibly the bitchiest ever—fortunately, I didn't have to tangle with him. Upon entering, we were welcomed by half-naked, long-haired Chippendale look-alikes (I never thought I would one day say that—please someone bring back Hedi's skinny boys), who shamelessly pushed copies of the new Visionaire in our faces, as if we were shopping for live chickens in a New Delhi market. Plus, the music was all about Justice (nothing against them, but you know), the cocktails were kind of weird and we had to contend with an army of paparazzi trying to find the beautiful people. Perhaps they were waiting for late-arriving Linda Evangelista, as I was not.

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