Visvim designer Hiroki Nakamura harbors an extraordinary fetish for iconic, old-timey Americana—in particular, cowboys, and all the masculine Wild West mystique the word dusts up.
The first hint of this was the invitation to his mostly men's presentation. It was, simply, a photo of a cowboy. Not just any cowboy, but Ronald Reagan in full regalia, spurs and all, presumably a marketing image from one of the American president and former actor's cowboy films. Nakamura's interest in the image was anything but political. Rather, the designer was captivated by the weathered patina it had accumulated over the years.
And so, in the white cube of a space deep in the West Village, patina was everywhere, beginning with the two antique motorcycles on display near the entrance, rusty and rundown jalopies Nakamura has collected and taken great pains not to restore, so as to savor their visible deterioration. "I'm inspired by aging and exposure that surfaces undergo," said Nakamura. "The aging process adds aesthetic depth and character, a desirable unevenness. In this way, each piece is designed from the inside. They have a story."
Visvim, which started out as a cultish men's shoe label, has grown into a full-fledged lifestyle brand, each artisanal item, from moccasins to room fragrances, oozing patina. Jackets have been hand-rubbed with natural dyes, giving the appearance of vintage (but they most certainly are not), while an entire rack of denim jackets looked so authentically Western, they'd give costume historians pause. Patchwork quilting could be found throughout, and several heavily fringed leather shirts with bits of plumage dangling at the collar seemed to offer a nod to Native American dress.
But the most compelling pieces were those that were not literal re-creations of frontier garb, but that dipped into avant-garde territory. These included a padded coat in an allover bandanna print, and another padded coat in a playful bucking-bronco print with a contrasting plaid yoke. There's plenty of room at the rodeo for high-concept Japanese experimentalism. There's also plenty of room to branch out further into womenswear. Taking its cues from the men's side, WMV is already in its third season, set to debut stateside this month at Dover Street Market, Barneys New York, and Jeffrey.