Around the globe, Tokyo has become widely recognized as a breeding ground for avant-garde fashion. At Yoyogi Stadium, just blocks from the city’s fashionable Harajuku district, the world of Tokyo street fashion achieved new heights last Sunday night with Asia Girls Explosion. Collaboratively masterminded by X-Japan’s Yoshiki and cutting-edge fashion guru Jay f.R., Asia Girls Explosion fused the worlds of rock and fashion in an unprecedented multimedia event designed to simultaneously present a raw, honest example of Japanese street fashion and challenge the standards of the global fashion industry.
“You can’t have music without fashion, and you can’t have fashion without music,” Yoshiki explained during a recent press conference — and indeed, Asia Girls Explosion provided a healthy dose of both. Half fashion show, half concert, the nearly three-hour event featured an eclectic mix of featured models, musicians and actresses. Acclaimed Japanese model Ai Tominaga took to the runway, along with musicians Marilyn Manson and X-Japan’s own Heath. Actresses Olivia Palermo, Shenae Grimes and AnnaLynne McCord also made guest appearances, and both Violet UK and X-Japan rocked the stage with groundbreaking performances.
While traditional fashion shows are designed to showcase the work of a particular designer, Asia Girls Explosion combined pieces from a multitude of industry-leading designers and brands to create looks for every occasion — and from every era, as well. Classic fashion trends from the 1940s and ’50s received revolutionary updates, while the funky trends of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s were revived with avant-garde millennium twists.
X-Japan bassist Heath walked the runway as the feature model for Kitgirl — one of the only collections to be featured by name — in a rock-inspired monochrome getup, while Marilyn Manson opened the evening’s journey through fashion history with a ’40s inspired black fedora. Model Ai Tominaga looked bohemian-chic with a tropical twist in a floral halter dress and vivid orange heels.
DJ Nervo kicked off the musical portion of the evening with an innovative electro-pop set. Australian sisters Liz and Mim Nervo — who have collaborated in the past with internationally acclaimed artists such as Kylie Minogue and Ke$ha — blended dance hall beats with upbeat pop melodies, paving the way for Violet UK’s debut performance in Japan.
The brainchild of Yoshiki, Violet UK has featured a number of talented musicians, both foreign and Japanese alike. Supported by an orchestral string section, the Violet UK lineup for the Asia Girls Explosion set featured none other than Sugizo on both violin and guitar. The band’s final song of the night served as the musical accompaniment to the Yoshikimono showcase.
Yoshiki, whose father owned a kimono shop, returned to the roots of his family business to create a line of innovative and modernized kimono. Tall boots, tulle obi and elaborate, feathered coifs infused the most traditional of Japanese fashion arts with a 21st century rock ‘n’ roll flare, and a mix of foreign and Asian models walked the runway as Yoshiki and Sugizo wowed the crowd with a brilliant piano and violin duet.
Yoshiki later took to the runway himself, bringing the crowd to its feet and winding them up for the highlight performance of the evening — a much-anticipated performance by X-Japan themselves, who debuted “Scarlet Love Song” on the live stage for the first time ever in Japan. Lead vocalist Toshi kept his cool in a pair of slick black sunglasses, while Yoshiki lit into his drum set with a passionate fervor and Sugizo and Heath tore up both stage and strings with white-hot riffs and solos. Yoshiki also took his turn at the piano, treating show-goers to a stunning piano solo to round off the evening. He serenaded the crowd on his signature Kawai crystal grand piano as the entire cast of Asia Girls Explosion took to the stage for one final curtain call, leaving no doubt that this musical and cultural icon is not only still at the top of his game, but still climbing to new artistic heights.
Live Report by: Maura D.
Edited by: Debra H.