By  on May 17, 2007

TOKYO — Bottega Veneta kept the inaugural party for its Tokyo flagship local — but that's not to say it was a provincial affair.

For the event last Friday night, the company invited an eclectic mix of Japanese pop stars, conceptual artists and catwalk models to an in-store cocktail and private after party at a small art gallery.

"I like to invite the local people, you don't want to come here and see the same people all the time," said Bottega Veneta creative director Tomas Maier, who has been coming to Tokyo for about 25 years and still looks forward to exploring the city, whether it's scouting for ceramic bowls and cutlery or just enjoying the modernist lines of the Hotel Okura's lobby.

"On the one side there's tradition and on the other side you have this…urge for [what's] next. That is also what makes the city so interesting to all of us to have both of those elements in one place," he said.

Maier, dapper in a three-piece suit, and Bottega chief Patrizio Di Marco mingled with guests like Liz Goldwyn and models Ai Tominaga, Anne Watanabe and Du Juan. Juan, clad in a sweet pink frock, just wrapped the Pirelli calendar shoot in Shanghai. She was next heading to New York to appear in the second anniversary issue of Vogue China. Other notables included photographer Hiromix, who appeared in "Lost in Translation," actress Kyoko Hasegawa and a gaggle of Japanese fashion stylists and editors.

Actor Tsuyoshi Ihara looked the part of a leading man in his sunglasses and striking white ensemble. Having worked beside Ken Watanabe, Anne's father, in Clint Eastwood's "Letters From Iwo Jima," he's now concentrating on his next acting project, a remake of "Snatch" featuring plenty of Japanese mafia fights. It's due for release later this year.

As the evening progressed, the pack moved from the store to the art gallery owned by one of Maier's friends. Bottega customized the space, well hidden in a residential neighborhood, right down to the woven leather throw pillows and intrecciato tumbler glasses. Large prints of photographer Naoki Hatakeyama's images of exploding rock adorned the walls of the gallery.Maier, still beaming the next day, was enthused by the party's high concentration of creative types.

"This morning I woke up with a really nice feeling about [the party]," he said, speaking from a suite in the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo overlooking the bustling city and a vast sea of skyscrapers. "I like people to meet people and I think this was a good party for people to mingle."

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