Found in Translation

Sweden's Acne Sets Up Shop in Tokyo


Jonny Johansson and Nicola Formichetti   
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"Everyone says, 'Japan's going to be your market,' " Acne's Jonny Johansson said at a preview of his brand's new Aoyama store on Thursday. And, he added, "I really thought so, too." The mobbed cocktail he threw to celebrate its opening suggested everyone was right.

Japanese It girls arrived in what seemed like doe-eyed bulk: the blue-haired DJ Mademoiselle Yulia; the models Kiki Mizuhara, Hana Matsushima, and Kozue Akimoto; and Paul Weller's daughter Leah. The store was too full to move, but had the opportunity presented itself, they could have found plenty of dancing partners: a handful of members from Japan's 14-man mega-boy-band Exile made the scene, as did Takahiro, whom Madonna tapped to choreograph her Celebration tour in Japan.

But Japanophiles were as much in evidence as Japanese. Carmen Kass appeared in what she insisted were remarkably comfortable Acne stilettos. Rag & Bone's David Neville came by to scope the competition, in town in advance of Japan's Fashion's Night Out celebrations in Osaka tomorrow night. And the French model/choreographers Les Twins made an appearance, despite an early-morning summons the next day to Paris, to see their most famous client, Beyoncé.

Acne being Acne, there were Swedes in profusion, and the entire evening had an unofficial Sweden-meets-Japan theme. It was summed up in a person by Narumi Hérisson, the Swedish-Japanese (and, for good measure, Paris-based) chanteuse of Tristesse Contemporaine, who provided some of the after-party's tunes. But dig a little deeper and it was everywhere else, too. Gene Krell, a majordomo of Condé Nast Japan and veteran Tokyoite, recalled his own earlier days in Sweden: "I brought the Sex Pistols there 20 years ago!"

It was worlds meeting worlds, capped off, to keep the theme, with an after-party at the former residence of the Danish ambassador. A St. Lucia's Day feast was served, rooms were fringed floor-to-ceiling in glitter tinsel (snuck in by the suitcase-full from London by an Acne exec), and the L.A.-based brother act Inc, sniffed out for next-big-thing by one of Acne's designers, played a set to christen their first visit to Japan. They're two white twentysomethings who play sexed-up slow jams in the style of eighties Prince. How's that for a culture clash?

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