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PARIS — Raf Simons, whose minimalist store for Jil Sander in New York represented his first retail effort, has done a double encore in Japan — but this time for his own brand.

This story first appeared in the October 23, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

A Raf Simons store opened earlier this month in Osaka, following the September opening of a two-level unit in Tokyo’s Aoyama district.

The Belgian designer, who launched his signature men’s wear in 1995, plans to travel to Tokyo next month to celebrate both stores, owned by Futurepresent, his Japanese license holder.

Given his penchant for contemporary art, Simons collaborated with a different artist for each visually arresting shop, just as he enlisted Germaine Kruip to help with Sander’s Manhattan store on Howard Street, which debuted last July.

Los Angeles-based Sterling Ruby photographed bleached-splashed canvases and converted the shots into wallpaper prints covering walls and ceilings of the Tokyo store, which spans 1,200 square feet. Display fixtures are also covered in the canvas, as negative photo prints, for a graphic, contrasting effect.

Meanwhile, London-based artist Roger Hiorns was tapped for the Osaka store, which has 1,350 square feet of selling space. Employing mirrors, copper and aluminum into prism and rhomboid shapes, Hiorns created a gleaming, disorienting world. But it is not a completely cold one: One of the giant mirrors is equipped with a water pump and “cries” tears.

Simons said he knew “these two artist would create an aesthetic environment that I will always strongly believe in.…I’m extremely happy with the outcome.”

Simons enjoys a cult following for his men’s wear, prized for its streetwise and futuristic esthetic and modern tailoring. The designer, 40, shows his men’s wear in Paris, and has been creative director for Jil Sander women’s and men’s since 2005.

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