The Genteel
September 29, 2020

Best Kept Secrets

The Fantastic World of Dorothy Vacance

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Dorothy Vacance before and after shirts

Dorothy Vacance is located on a quiet street in Oomori, outside of the madness of central Tokyo. The boutique was opened in April of this year and has quickly become a destination shop for those seeking one-of-a-kind, handmade pieces by designer, stylist and shop owner, Ayano Nakayama, aka Gon. The space is a hybrid of sorts, part boutique, part gallery and now, atelier, where you can learn some serious crafting skills. 

The idea for the shop was conceived from a single redesigned/re-purposed men's shirt that could be worn in a variety of ways. It was a personal project for Gon that quickly gained praise and custom orders from friends and family. Following this success, she opened the multi-functional space not only to serve as her studio, but also to feature and sell the work of her friends, many of whom are artists in their own right. Each of them contribute to her permanent collection and revolving exhibits. 

Dorothy Vacance converse
(Photo courtesy of Dorothy Vacance).

The concept and inspiration of the space revolves around two main themes, one being the movie, The Wizard of Oz and the other is the idea of living everyday like a holiday or "vacance," which Gon says is her mantra. The theme is not literal, but an inspiration that includes a fantasy world where one is welcomed by a beautiful riot of colours and clashing patterns. Gon has added her personal touch to everything that inhabits her "Dorothy Vacance" world, from the outside of the shop and throughout her interior space. She does all the sewing herself and works on small projects in the store while the rest is completed at home. Her meticulous attention to detail and love of crafting is evident in all of her designs. One item that perfectly captured this was a sheath dress silhouette that showcased her use of "oya," a Turkish edging embroidery. She updated this ancient technique by using metallic thread to make small triangle trims. Each tiny piece takes her about five minutes to complete and yet, she used more than 50 pieces to trim the dress. Other favorite items were the classic high top converse, a redesigned vintage mohair sweater and of course, all of the accessories: earrings, necklaces, pillows, pin cushions - the list is endless.

Ayano Nakayama, aka Gon
(Photo courtesy of Dorothy Vacance).

So, if you find yourself in Tokyo, stop by the shop to be inspired and to discover new and unique pieces that are lovingly handmade by Gon and friends. However, if you cannot make it to Tokyo, international orders are accepted on her remake shirts; you can send your own shirt or she can find one for you! All you have to do is choose from one of three designs, The Ribbon, The Heart or the Triangle (The Heart and The Ribbon are pictured herein).

You'll find once you're inside the Dorothy Vacance world, you won't want to leave. It beckons you in and it doesn't hurt that Gon is such a charming and kind woman whom you can easily chat the afternoon away with like a good friend.

Shop Info: Dorothy Vacance, 3-2-16 Chuo Ota-ku, Tokyo 143-0024, Tel: 03.5446.8979

Hours: 12:00-20:00, closed Wednesday/Thursday.

Train station: Oomori on the Keihin-tohoku line.



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