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Found in Translation

First Stop: Tokyo for Chanel's Little Black Jacket Exhibition

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Karl Lagerfeld, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Carine Roitfeld   
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The Chanel road show is a formidable machine. It just rolled into Tokyo for a three-day celebration of Karl Lagerfeld's new book The Little Black Jacket, which launched Wednesday night with a party in a backstreet off Omotesando and a dinner at the Park Hyatt. That will forever be the hotel where Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson plighted their obtuse troth in Lost in Translation. X-zillion floors above Tokyo's magic carpet of lights? Who wouldn't feel turned on?

But this celebration felt more like a family affair. That's what it's like when Karl takes to the road. In Tokyo, there was his usual small circle of intimates, including Vanessa Paradis, Amanda Harlech, Stephen Gan, Virginie Viard, and Sébastien Jondeau; longtime professional collaborators like DJ Michel Gaubert, Sam McKnight on hair, Peter Philips on makeup; plus the customary coterie of devastatingly attractive French starlets: Gaspard Ulliel, Clémence Poésy, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey. That's one big mobile comfort zone, so it was no wonder there was so much talk about kids at dinner. Pressed to pick a favorite from the 120 portraits he shot for the book, Karl nominated the picture of his godson Hudson Kroenig. (He also said he was partial to his partner on the project Carine Roitfeld's revamp as Coco herself, which is the book's cover.) Sarah Jessica Parker was enthusing about introducing her car-mad 9-year-old to Tokyo toy shops (nobody does them better than the Japanese). And model mums Stella Tennant and Arizona Muse were sharing pictures of their young'uns on the far side of the world. There were pet pictures in the mix there somewhere as well. (One of my Jack Russells is called Stella, after all.)

Tokyo also offered endless opportunities for grown-up playtime. Tennant accompanied Lily Donaldson, Alice Dellal, and Cara Delevingne on an expedition to a five-floor emporium of erotica earlier in the day (nobody does them better than the Japanese, either), where purchases included a couple of coy kilts, none of them on display, unfortunately, not even later at Le Baron, where Jalouse's Jennifer Eymere and Alexei Hay were holding court. (Surely, Olivier Zahm was in there somewhere, too.) If you weren't out all night at Le Baron or La Jetee, you could be up before dawn cracked to go to the legendary Tsukiji fish market, or head to Kyoto for the day (the ever-enterprising Natasha Fraser managed that one), or seek out one of the older, more traditional suburbs of Tokyo, like SJP did. "I have crazy wanderlust," she admitted. "I just wanted to see how real people live."

But everyone reconvened in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden by 5:30 for tonight's repeat performance of Chanel's January Couture show. Same jet set, same clothes, same models, and same Captain Karl emerging from his cockpit at the finale to soak up the awestruck applause. (Being struck by awe in the designer's presence was one more thing the Japanese excelled at over the past few days.) The photo exhibition touches down next in New York, followed by another seven stops around the world to mark the Year of the Little Black Jacket.

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