Iori & Co. treats travelers to a real slice of life in Japan.Tradition is revered in Japan, but it has taken an American to recognize the modern potential of some of the island nation’s ancient buildings.Over the past four years, Iori & Co. has been renovating machiya, or old wooden town houses, into stunning rental properties in the heart of historic Kyoto. Its most recent effort dates back to the Meiji era and has the ink calligraphy on one of the pine ceiling beams to prove it.Alex Kerr, a Maryland-born scholar and author who has lived in Asia for more than three decades, got his start in the renovation business in 1973 when he bought a 200-year-old farmhouse in Shikoku in the western part of Japan. Today, he is chairman of Iori, which has restored nine houses around Kyoto and runs Asian art and cultural programs.“The big challenge—and this is our specialty and it’s what interests me in these houses—is how to make them modern. By that I mean, how can modern people live in them comfortably?” says Kerr.The 56-year-old eschews the two pervading schools of Japanese restoration. “One is basically you restore it to perfection, to its original condition, and it becomes a museum and dies,” he says. “Or, you totally distort it and destroy what was of value in it by tricking it out with concrete and plastic and fluorescent light fittings.”Typically, machiya were merchants’ homes with a store in the front and a residence behind. The part of the building that faces the street was the basis on which taxes were calculated, so the properties tend to be long and narrow.Iori’s most recent renovation, a house called Sanbo Nishinotoin, fell into disrepair when its former inhabitant, a painter, died several years ago. Until recently, his family, who still owns the property, ran a textile business out of the front portion. Now, Marukyu-Koyamaen Co. Ltd., one of Kyoto’s most famous green tea producers, has converted that space into a cafe that serves up steaming cups of green tea, or matcha, as well as green tea roll cake, ice cream and other delicacies.Iori spent four months restoring and renovating the back annex—the painter’s former abode—into an airy four-room space that is available for rent. “Honestly, it looked like it was going to fall down,” says Bodhi Fishman, a consultant with Iori. “The whole far side of the house was sagging and we had to jack it up.”A stone walkway winds past a small, carefully manicured garden to the house’s entrance. A room with tatami mat flooring, traditionally used for the tea ceremony, greets visitors. Next door, an elegantly spare living room with floor cushions and a low table leads to one of the more unique and unexpected corners of the house—a Japanese cypress bathtub overlooking a private sliver of green garden, replete with its own miniature shrine. Flattened bamboo covers the walls of the stairwell leading up to the second floor. The main room has an Asian loft feel. Reed mats, usually found on the floor in Japan, are used to construct the ceiling, filling in the spaces between the rich brown pine beams. Renting out one of the machiya gives visitors insight into daily life in Japan. Most travelers are eager to experience everyday Japanese life and stay in traditional inns, or ryokan, replete with house matrons who employ regimented wake-up calls and enter rooms willy-nilly to brew tea and fluff pillows. But not all travelers are fans of such intrusions. “The thing about our houses is that, because it’s your own house, you can lay your futon wherever you like and your children can run around and scream and yell,” Kerr says. “Because it’s a house, you’re living in a neighborhood. You’re not just a tourist that checks in—you actually live there.”For more information and prices, go to kyoto-machiya.com. For reservations, call +81.07.5352.0211. Prices vary on the number of occupants in the house.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast