Visvim designer Hiroki Nakamura has an obsession with Americana: blue jeans and chinos, cowboys and ranchers, the whole bit. There’s a twisted sense of “normality” to his aesthetic, being as it is embedded in garments we see every day, even if we’re not American, due to the overwhelming influence that culture has had across the world. So today, inside a French rococo-style Italian limonaia (an orangery, but for lemons), we incongruously saw this Japanese brand’s take on America.
It was quite a show, a show in the old-fashioned sense of the word, all Busby Berkeley tap dancing, ’50s jitterbugging, and a troupe of sailors going gung ho Gene Kelly and whirling mops like batons. They resembled Channing Tatum in Hail, Caesar! (albeit a few years on). Halfway through the show, they twirled khaki-clad female counterparts into jive dances, as the models precariously perambulated around the flailing limbs. Outside the limonaia? Lemonade stands. What else?
The limonaia is an interesting metaphor for Visvim—bear with me—forming as it does a microclimate for the fruit it grows, which would otherwise perish in Tuscany. And the Visvim show itself felt like a microclimate of sorts, so perfectly did it re-create the idea of America, if not the actuality. After all, none of the garments Visvim showed in such an American fashion were actually made in the USA; they use Japanese fabrics alongside elaborate craft and dyeing techniques sourced from across the globe that are, sadly, no longer possible on an industrial scale stateside. Nevertheless, as a mirage of America, it was potent.
What about the clothes? They continued in the Visvim mold, of workwear, denims, and ten-gallon hats, but fused with the off-kilter, frequently overtly Japanese, like the cotton tie-front jackets cut wide and easy like a kimono. The American archetypes in dress, along with the all-singing, all-dancing backdrop, gave you the impression of stock characters let loose off the MGM lot: the cowboy, the laborer, the coach in a sweatshirt with cap and whistle, the rebel without a cause but with a lot of clothes. There was a focus on denim, the most American of fabrics, and a crop of seersucker tailcoats that looked like something out of American Gothic. There was also a peppering of retro-tinged, war bride–inspired pieces from the Visvim womenswear line, WMV, that crossed paths with the menswear throughout the show. Boy meets girl? The oldest script on the film lot.
Will men want to dress like film characters? I’m mostly guessing not, but ditch the Stetsons and the straw boaters, and those allegorical outfits disintegrate rapidly into wearable, workaday pieces in innovative fabrics. I don’t need to assert their appeal to the ordinary man with money to spend; Visvim already sells well, all across the world. As a runway image, though, these clothes read quietly; generally Nakamura shows via appointment, to enable explanation of his clothes intricacies. Today he put on a show, but the clothes didn’t feel like the stars. Sailors doing a Shirley Temple routine are pretty much guaranteed to upstage anything, though.