Kisetsu: Multiculturalism in Hoi An, Vietnam

 

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It’s been quiet over here in MoMu land as I got slammed with work and well… life.  Admittedly its been hard to direct my attention to this project as other things weigh heavy on my heart and mind.  Hopefully I get the creative energy and time to put all my efforts back into building this website and store soon, but until I do, one foot forward at a time.

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The subject of today’s post thankfully kills two birds with one stone.  I’m currently working on the women’s spring 2015 trend book for workand one of the stories is a very artisanal approach to the globalista trend that’s been popping up consistently each season over the past few years in a slightly different incarnation.  The Missoni and Tsumori Chisato collections I blogged about would be my preferred representation of it.  These kinds of trends are always my favorite to work on for the obvious travel-obsessed reasons.  One of the defining characteristics of this specific story is attention to the textiles – the printing, dying, weaving etc. - and the handmade quality of them.  It also cannot be pinpointed to a specific region of culture as it incorporates elements of Japanese, SE Asian, folkloric and African textiles and motifs.

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The same multiculturalism that permeates fashion at the moment is the same found in Hoi An in Central Vietnam.  Hoi An is a must visit during a trip to Vietnam because of the charm, quaintness and stunning temples that earn the locale a spot on Conde Nast Traveler’s Top 10 Cities In Asia list.  The town is a splendidly preserved ancient trading port that is a UNESCO heritage site and boasts a unique collision of cultures due to its history.  At some point or another the Chinese, Dutch, Indians, Japanese and Portuguese have each made their home there.  As such, Hoi An is divided up into quarters that served these various groups.  The architecture, design, religious institutions and city plan reflect these influences.

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Another post will have to serve the rest of how wonderful Hoi An is, but Kisetsu was the best place I stumbled into by far and nods in reverence to the same mix of cultural influences the city itself is built upon.  I was initially drawn into this shop because of the kimonos spotted through the door.  Few hours later after a beautiful visit with Japanese owner Yoko Ishikawa, her French husband and their 2-year old who speaks 4 languages already, I was contemplating a move to Hoi An.  They took me in – shared their friends and family with me and made my heart flutter with how non-conventional and outside the box their lives were.

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The shop itself is part cafe and reading room, part gallery and fashion boutique.  It is housed in a beautiful multi-floored merchant house typical of Hoi An.  The bottom floor has breezy clothing designed by Yoko, accessories made from vintage kimono fabrics and handmade housewares collected from artisans across Vietnam and Japan.

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Upstairs it turns into more of a gallery with an impressive antique kimono collection alongside Japanese cultural artifacts.  One more floor above and a gorgeous tiled room filled with antique furniture offers visitors eclectic design reads and zines from around the world.  Still trekking upwards and the most beautiful rooftop in Hoi An appears offering impressive views of the town.  And a two year old who instinctively knew what language to speak to me gave me the tour of all of it.

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Kisetsu showcased both Hoi An and this family’s culture collide in the most relevant way.  It’s a meeting place for both locals and travellers alike and is certainly representative of what jewels Hoi An and the diversity of modern Vietnam.

 

Sadly Kisetsu’s internet presence is scarce.  It seems like Yoko has a rarely used Pinterest and Facebook page, but both won’t offer much in the way of information.  Best bet?  Go there – 30 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An, Vietnam.

 

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And if you love kimonos as much as me and Kisetsu, head over to the MoMu shop and take a gander at the latest collection.

 

 

All photos my own.