StyleZeitgeist Tokyo Guide

For the aesthetically inclined and designed conscious there is probably no better place on earth than Tokyo. And for science fiction fans it’s probably the closest thing to encountering another humanoid civilization – things are similar enough and foreign enough in Tokyo to make it all the more exciting, even though in the last couple of years the intractable march of globalization of culture has left an indelible stamp on the city. I’ve been to Tokyo three times and by now feel confident enough to write a guide of sorts. Because there is so much to do and see here, I decided that the best approach is to break it down by neighborhood rather than the list of places, because there are too many of them. Tokyo is vast – don’t even think about spending less than a week here. I’ll list the neighborhoods more or less in order of preference or proximity to each other. Aside from these recommendations, the best advice I can give you is to get lost in the wonderful maze of Tokyo’s streets – because the best spots are often in the back alleys off the main thoroughfares. You’ll need your GPS.

Deborah Turbeville Comme des Garçons 1981

I first met the photographer Deborah Turbeville in 2011 when I profiled her for our second print volume. It turned out that Deborah was an avid Russophile, and our conversation ranged from her work to her love of Russian literature, cinema, music, and ballet. After Deborah passed away, it was the first article from our print editions that we shared online.

I kept in touch with people who managed Deborah’s estate, and early this year I finally went to see her archive, housed in an Upper East Side townhouse and to meet its co-director, Paul Sinclaire, who also was one of Deborah’s closest friends. While I was browsing the photos, like some kid in gothic Disneyland, I spotted a box titled “Comme des Garçons.” I went through it, and the ethereal, otherworldly photos in it were marked “1981.” Could it be that Deborah had shot the first collection Kawakubo presented in Paris? It very well could, though we did not know for sure. But what I did know was that given the May exhibition of Comme des Garçons at the Met these photos should be made into a book. I asked Paul what he thought about making a book, and he loved the idea.

Comme des Garçons at the Met

One of the several questions that came to me as I was leaving the press preview of the “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between” show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was, “Who is this exhibit for?” Or, to reframe it in broader context, what is the role of museums today?