Visvim designer Hiroki Nakamura is so smitten with the concept of vintage that each season he hauls into his showroom a classic car (or motorcycle) that he’s been restoring, though never to the point that it loses its telltale wear and tear. After all, character is what he’s after, not flawlessness. This season Nakamura found character in a 1950s hot rod that looked like it hadn’t seen the road, much less a drag race, in decades.
But it does work, as the designer showed, if deafeningly loud sputters from the tailpipe mean it’s working. Point is, the car hails from a mythological age of American auto racing—and if a hot rod was good enough for James Dean to speed around in on- and offscreen, it’s good enough for Visvim.
The car served to set the tone of the collection, which could be described as postwar transpacific tropical. With vintage forever on Nakamura’s mind, he looked to Hawaiian shirts from the ’50s, the decade the islands became a state, thus sparking a nationwide fad for flower prints, palm trees, and pineapples. Nakamura then injected traditional Japanese techniques for a novel twist. For example, a range of pineapple-printed shirts for men and women had been hand-dyed in indigo, persimmon flower, or mud. Yes, mud. As it turns out, mud-dyeing makes for a delightful shade of khaki. (The women’s side, called WMV, looks identical to the men’s but is cut differently.)
Although fixated on the years after WWII, it doesn’t seem that Nakamura is going for an antiwar message. Rather, he is taken with the trappings of the time, and his insistence on employing time-honored Japanese methods has helped ensure the survival of many artisans and their trade. The statement piece of the collection, a long kimono entirely hand-painted by artisans in Kyoto to resemble swirls of swimming koi fish and other stylized animals, was a testament to his reverence for history and his passion for the preservation of artistic practices. With a price in the five digits, the kimono itself is a work of art.
More wearable pieces, too, were exhaustively considered. Shirts were embroidered with clusters of small silk stars or ’50s-era slogans Nakamura latched onto while researching. One blue denim shirt resembling an old railroad worker’s uniform was made by a factory in Japan that specializes in faithfully reproducing discontinued fabrics. A reversible bomber was solid velvet on one side and silk on the other, while simple baseball jerseys looked like the real thing. And therein lies Nakamura’s raison d’être. While he’s smitten with vintage, none of these items are in fact vintage. All the materials, whether suede, lambskin, or cotton rayon, are made in contemporary Japan and given the veneer of golden age America.