Finding a “Carefree Newness”
In Japan, we associate the influential brand agnès b. with the earliest murmurings of awareness of, and attraction to, international fashion. Considering the brand in this moment, what strikes us is not fashion associated with any particular period, but rather the timeless, ongoing virtues of its careful crafting, as inspired by its culture: by work clothing, by film, art, charity, photography, music, and by design at large. We wanted to express, to the fullest extent possible, this charm, this appeal, via the very air of the store we were proposing.
In planning, we inevitably look back to history. We had the fortunate opportunity to visit the designer’s home and studio, her other shops in Paris, and to explore the original site of agnès b.; the small, refurbished butcher shop on Rue du Jour, set amidst the myriad small stores and studios neighboring it. What we observed emerging from Paris’ ancient architecture was modern art, precious stones, exotic fabrics, and the newest products, all coexisting side by side in defiance of temporality. Everywhere we went, in every shop and venue we studied, light was viewed as a premium and seemed to pour in from above. Though inside, we always felt surrounded by open space.
We sought to carry over these qualities to agnès b. Rue du Jour. Skylights weren’t an option in the central Tokyo location. Instead, a glass ceiling would both reflect exterior light inside, and by its transparency, further that feeling of openness and expansiveness we felt in the Paris shops. The inside and outside, the past and present, darkness and light – we felt we could distill and harness the charm of another time and place in bringing these contradictory conditions to life side by side as we experienced them in Paris.
The moment in which one comes to grasp a sense of fashion doesn’t result from ornamentation or appurtenances, but a definitive and refined fit that helps draw out the presence of the person within. It’s a state of being blithely unconcerned with the passing world, and it is that “carefree” quality we sought to realize in this place. agnès b. is able to achieve this quality while embracing the contradictions of the contemporary world.
“Carefree, casual, ineffable newness”. Within these words and ideas exists the spirit of what we tried to embody in agnès b. Rue du Jour.