After all the lush haute-ness of couture shows, my last stop in Paris was in Ambush’s showroom where unexpected bling meets the grounds of Palais Royal. As streetwear’s convergence with high fashion shows no signs of abating, this Japanese jewellery label, created by rapper Verbal and his wife Yoon, finds itself in a niche of its own. Garnering celebrity fans, prestigious stockists like Dover Street Market and colette and scoring collaborations with fellow Japanese giants Sacai and Undercover as well as Kim Jones for Louis Vuitton, Ambush has made a success out of exporting what they call a “Tokyo aesthetic.”
It’s easy though to look at the surface of Ambush’s jewellery and label it as mere surface-driven pop-bling. Especially when you’re viewing their stuff through the prism of blogs and social media. Verbal and Yoon pride themselves on creating a quality product and so for the first time, they decided to show their wares in Paris, debuting their A/W 15-6 “Dreamcatchers” collection. Stockists have put faith in them by buying in their pieces based on digital linesheets alone but they were able to come and take a peek and feel the heft and weight of their signature gold and silver coated chains, fit for anyone – guy or girl – with the mettle to don Ambush. The trick me thinks is to be fearless about loading it up in multiple quantities.
Their seasonal collection for A/W 15-6 takes a turn for the desert and the Native American insignia, which they have re-appropriated in such a way so as to avoid any cliches. A beaded breastplate comes coated in silver or gold. Turquoise stones are replaced with vivid red and blue stones, dyed intensely to achieve Ambush’s signature colour palette. Iridescent powder coating also adds a steeliness to words like Love and Peace rendered on pendants and chunky rings. Their foundation of clothes that compliment the jewellery grows in range with patchwork denim jumpsuits and military parka jackets with exaggerated pockets. Tommy Ton, Youngjun Koo and I found ourselves slightly obsessed with trying everything on.
Verbal and Yoon are keen to stress the quality and source of manufacture of their pieces. Everything is made in Japan and no shortcuts are taken. The denim pieces for example are made in Kojima, Okayama – dubbed the denim city of Japan. Their burgeoning range of skull bags, vaguely similar to Aitor Throup’s own skull creations, were created in collaboration with Kyoto-based shoe and leather craftsman Kushino Masayo.
Just as Made in Japan is once again making ears perk up – see leather label Blackmeans’ recent installation at Selfridges and the recent success of labels like Kolor and Sacai – Ambush fits into this narrative as they seek to prove that quality and eyeball-grabbing designs don’t have to be mutually exclusive.