“Flare Star”, the latest book by our friends Kapital, has been a long-awaited concept for designer Kiro Hirata and his photographer pal Eric Kvatek. Back in 2015, I first met the two, to work on a Kapital production in Thailand. The shoot was intended to be shot in Vietnam, but moved to Northern Thailand due to a bunch of frustrating red tape. 5 years later, Kiro finally got the opportunity to make a book in Vietnam.
This book shows a glimpse of the unimaginably beautiful landscape of Vietnam. I suppose there’s a lot about Vietnam that the world hasn’t yet seen, so it’s really exciting for me to see this body of work out in the public eye. The country opened for tourism just after the War in 1976, but there wasn’t yet infrastructure to accommodate for tourists. In 1993 the Vietnamese government changed the visa entry requirements for foreigners entering the country, but it hasn’t been till recent years that tourism has been properly promoted. Unlike neighboring Thailand, there are still so many pockets of Vietnam unseen to the foreigner’s gaze.
We had spent a Vietnamese scouting day together in November 2019 to Ho Chi Minh city, where I was able to give Kiro and Eric a 12-hour taste of the buzzing city. Unfortunately for Eric, the ’Flare Star’ shoot happened just after the Lunar new year in February, and a flood of tourists from China and South Korea proved difficult. Shooting in the World Heritage protected city of Hoi An, Eric somehow still managed to capture some stunning shots of the colorful old shophouses in the most romantic city in Asia (says me). I particularly enjoyed the shots at neighboring Da Nang beach, with skeleton wetsuits and all. Kiro had told me that he made them specially for the book. ‘Sorry guys, they’re not for sale… because, “art”.
All in all this book is representative of so many things. The 5-year culmination of ideas between two long-time pals; a country that manifests so much natural and cultural beauty despite two eras of war; and of course the wonderfully unique textile Universe of Kapital… carefully thought out, stitched, washed and given life through this story.
Here you can find a special selection of images from the book. You can also listen to Eric tell his story of the shoot and his formative years as a photographer on The Ponytail Show later today.
Words by Lauren, photos by Eric Kvatek for Kapital's "Flare Star".