隐匿于代官山的风格宝藏 -- The Vintage Dress
A Hidden Style Treasure in Daikanyama, Tokyo – The Vintage Dress
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An Unconventional One
There are mainly two kinds of the vintage shop: The former can be detected by the smell of its piles of garments that leaked out onto the street. To let through another person while browsing, you need to embed yourself into the shelf at the front, and it’s always a challenge to stuff what you just took out back into the rack. The latter is similar to luxury boutiques on a prestigious location, so does the figure on the price tag.
Unlike any of those, The Vintage Dress should not be seen as a mediocre. Five minutes’ walk distance from Daikanyama Station, the shop is hidden in an alley at the east side of Daikanyama Tsutaya Book Store
Easy to miss, the wood door is always shut, the frosted window prevents glance from outside, the shop name is understatedly engraved on a small bronze door plate. And it only opens from Friday to Monday each week. Indeed, it requires an elaborated design with exceptional subtlety to obviate grandstanding or mediocrity, while preserving a certain extent of accessibility.
The hostess of the shop is Noriko Yamaguchi, nicely-trimmed short hair, slim, pleasant manner, and she speaks English well. If it were not her knowledge in fashion history and calm demeanour, I would surely mistake her as a sales lady due to her youth.
In the two-story shop, I scrutinised the designer pieces and asked some questions before went on trying a Mugler top wear from the 80s and a vintage Hermes silk blouse.
During the whole process, Noriko neither handle those fragile fabrics with excessive discretion nor rushes me by asking if them fits well when I’m trying on. On the windowsill lays some face covers (a cotton mask you put on before trying on clothes, it protect new garments from the makeup on your face). It’s quite common in Japan to be asked to put on a face cover before using the fitting room, but Noriko didn’t say anything to warn me.
Photo Credit: Agnes GE
As the shop name indicates, what you can find here are mainly dresses and gowns that serves rather formal occasions. On the upper floor, a rank of black dresses quietly hanging on those eye-catching burgundy wooden hangers — black dresses dated back to 60s, 70s and 80s from Maison’s like Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. I also saw some neck accessories from the 19th century in the display.
Noriko told me that she and her husband have been running another leisure style vintage shop nearby called “The Brisk” for seven to eight years. With the accumulated resource and experience, they decided to launch The Vintage Dress in November 2018. Sourcing around Europe for vintage dresses dated back to 50s to 80s. Their dresses suit special occasions like dating, wedding and other activities. The concept is for their customers to put on something special and left a great memory on that day, rather than lost in fashion trends.
Photo Credit: Agnes GE
In The Vintage Dress, you can find some BIBA’s dresses from the 60s presenting on mannequins, that’s one of Noriko’s favourite label. For people who find the brand unfamiliar: BIBA was the most representative boutique and fashion label of the 60s’ London — founded by fashion illustrator Barbara Hulanicki and her husband, Fiz-Simon.
While Fiz was responsible for operations, Barbara took charge in design. Under the influence of Pre-Raphaelite and Art Nouveau, BIBA’s aesthetic extols the beauty in decadence. Although most of BIBA’s dresses have slim cuttings and only available in one size, girls in London lines a long queue for them.
BIBA’s success has many reasons, besides the affordable price point (back then, a well-designed dress usually costs 15 to 20 pounds, while BIBA only charges 2 pounds, which makes it easy to afford by students and younger working ladies), BIBA has also redefined the high street shopping experience. Barbara and Fiz-Simon created a film-like interior, adorned the shopping area with many antiques and Victorian furniture, and the lighting is as dark as in a night club. They also hire attractive and friendly young girls as the sales associate, allowing the customer to browse freely without being pushed to make a purchase.
Soon, BIBA became a shopping sanctum to not only Londoners but tourists around the world. Celebrities like Twiggy and Yoko Ono have all visited BIBA.
As Fiz-Simon explained:
The whole idea is that we are not trying to sell anything to anybody. We are merely putting things into the store and hope that somebody will come along and buy them. We do not want to be seen to be pushing the customer into anything.
More than a half-century after BIBA’s success,『The Vintage Dress』 continued their principles in one way or the other.