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TOKYO — Just a day before heading to China to stage a fashion show in Beijing, Alexander Wang held court at Balenciaga’s first flagship in Japan on Monday night. The two-level store, located in the stylish Aoyama area, opened last month and will share a building with a yet-to-be-opened Alexander McQueen store. Other brands in the neighborhood include Prada, Comme des Garçons, Moncler and Marc Jacobs, as well as Wang’s own brand.
“I love the Aoyama neighborhood — my store is also around the corner actually. I think the contrast of it is very localized but also at the same time there’s a very charming, kind of neighborhood quality to the area as well,” the designer said. “And all the most important stores are around here, so I think we’re in really great company.”
This story first appeared in the May 13, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
For the Tokyo store, Balenciaga worked with architect Joseph Dirand, a first for the brand. Key elements include dark green marble on both exterior and interior walls, high ceilings and patterned stone floors inspired by Japanese tea gardens.
“With each project we always kind of discover new things we like. As we go through each location we always try to do something that’s a little bit different, so it’s not carbon copies in every location,” Wang said.
While Wang is no stranger to Tokyo, this is his first visit to Japan with Balenciaga. But just as with his own label, he still finds himself inspired by the way the Japanese dress.
“I think there’s a real devotion and dedication to getting dressed up here, and I think that’s something that’s always kind of existed in their culture. And there’s a real kind of artistry and experimentalism to it, and that’s what I’ve always loved about visiting Japan, is seeing that kind of individuality,” he said. “Whether it’s Balenciaga or Wang, it’s always exciting for me to see how things that I create translate onto the street, and how people take it and really make it their own. That’s always been something that has really kind of brought a lot of inspiration and excitement for myself.”
Wang said that some of his favorite neighborhoods in Tokyo to explore are Harajuku and Daikanyama, and that he always makes a point to try as many new restaurants as he can with each visit.