Building foundations with Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry
Even seasoned travellers welcome the insight of the right sort of local, a gently guiding hand in new territories or a fresh take on the familiar. With this in mind, Wallpaper* in collaboration with Tudor watches has produced a series of Style Files; country-specific, cliché-dodging dossiers and in-the-field notes for the contemporary explorer who really knows where they are going.
If you ever find yourself needing a guide to the best kept secrets of Tokyo's quietly hip Yanesen zone (named after the three neighbouring districts of Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi) drop into Chapeaux Artisanaux de Gris (CAG), the cosy, plywood atelier owned by Gris Uchiyama, and ask for directions. The hat maker knows the area better than anyone; she was born nearby and lives a short metro ride from her shop, collaborating closely with local craftsman.
As the name of her milliner's suggests, Uchiyama's beautifully constructed, androgynous headgear — designed and made by hand in–house — has an idiosyncratic, French look about it, a bit Jules et Jim, a hint of Jacques Tati. Which has earned her a loyal following among Tokyo's bohemian fashion elite who, like Uchiyama herself, can be found whiling away an afternoon over a glass of wine at local restaurant Lemon No Mi or sipping cups of Earl Grey in the junk shop–chic interiors of English Teahouse Pekhoe.
In Uchiyama's corner of Tokyo, redevelopment and gentrification are subtly and sensitively executed, while the pervading ambience is quirky and nonconformist. A cross between Paris and London's Shoreditch, Yanesen is all boutiques, independent galleries and vintage stores. Which is just how Uchiyama likes it. ‘In this part of town there is a relaxed, original–thinking culture that you can tap into,’ she says. ‘It’s a slower–paced but less conservative antidote to the intense “scrap and build” mentality elsewhere in Tokyo, where trends come and go so quickly. For many people the city is all about cheap, throwaway, fast fashion and individual style gets lost in the rush. Here, you can have a little adventure...’