By  on April 25, 2006

TOKYO — Tomas Maier is the latest designer to take a Tokyo tour.

The creative director of Bottega Veneta was here last week to celebrate the opening of the brand's flagship in the newly built Omotesando Hills mall. The events included a personal appearance by Maier at the store, where he launched a line of limited-edition handbags, and a fashion show of Bottega's full ready-to-wear collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. It was the luxury leathergoods and fashion house's first runway show outside of Milan.

The Omotesando Hills mall, a modernist glass building with smooth concrete walls, was designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando and houses about 100 restaurants and fashion brands, such as Yves Saint Laurent and Dolce & Gabbana.

The 3,230-square-foot Bottega Veneta store, which has an entrance on the street, consists of two floors with different ceiling heights to give the feeling of multiple showcases. Inside, there is an S-shaped staircase connecting the high-ceilinged entrance hall to the upper level's small, more intimate space.

The store sells merchandise such as exotic leather accessories, fine and costume jewelry and the home collection, as well as pieces from Bottega Veneta's burgeoning ready-to-wear business.

Maier said he has been dreaming of opening a large-scale flagship in Tokyo for a long time. "We have been thinking of creating an atmosphere for the Japanese customers to experience the whole world of Bottega Veneta," he said. "It is a pleasure to open the shop within this building designed by Tadao Ando. His way of treating materials in clear and functional design is something Bottega Veneta shares."

While the company declined to reveal sales projections, WWD Japan studies show that sales in Bottega Veneta's shop-in-shops in department stores have seen a double-digit increase over the past year.

To celebrate the opening of the Omotesando flagship, Bottega Veneta created five limited-edition handbags. Inspired by Tokyo, they include a $4,600 embroidered karung Veneta handbag, a $3,800 karung, python and snakeskin Bambina bag and a $1,100 lizard, karung and snakeskin Palermo bag.

To drive home the importance of the Japanese market, the Gucci Group brand held its first fashion show in Japan. The show included some 60 styles of the fall collection, and the brand's message — "When your own initials are enough" — was projected against the walls. It opened with fashion model Ai Tominaga and closed with Anne Watanabe, daughter of actor Ken Watanabe of "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "The Last Samurai."

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