fashion • 28 Apr, 2017
Backstage @ VIFW SS17 With Thuy Nguyen
Modern Vietnamese myths take the stage
Designer Thuy Nguyen of Thuy Design House has a unique profile in Vietnamese fashion parlons. Initially a painter and now an invested promoter of contemporary art, she’s someone whose vision of Vietnam has always been worth following. A couple of years ago, we sat down to find out what makes her tick, and yesterday just before her show on the 3rd day of Vietnam International Fashion Week, we caught up again, and as usual, she displayed an effortless sense of calm.
Hi Thuy, thanks for meeting us right before the big show. Could you tell us about the collection being presented tonight?
This collection revolves around the inspiration behind traditional Vietnamese prayers and myths. My intention was to recreate the type of dreams that are very strong and stirring. That’s why the collection is called “Mộng Mị”. As of the theme and how it translates into design, you will see the collection is based on 4 natural elements and their corresponding colors: water is white (Thoai Phu), forests and mountains are green (Nhac Phu), earth is yellow (Dia Phu), and the sky and sun are red (Thien Phu). The prints are based on the traditional style of painting called Tranh Hang Trong. The feminine icon that the collection references is called Ba Lieu Hanh, a traditional goddess considered the mother of all people.
How would you describe the excitement around a fashion show?
It’s the time when designers and their teams get to see the results of their work. In my case 6 months of creative effort. The challenge to make something outstanding pushes us to improve and to express ourselves as best we can. Also, there’s a commercial expectation that drives the buzz. Brands and designers care about commercial success with so many potential customers in the room. So what comes after the show is as important as the show itself.
Thuy Nguyen (left) and Cha Mi backstage
Feminity is a concept in motion these days. How would you describe the Thuy Design House woman?
Feminity now needs to deal with two things: functionality and beauty. Besides that, culture is important. Whatever we do, wherever we are, we are Vietnamese. We have our culture even if it doesn’t seem obvious. The depth of our culture lies in the references we share. *Thuy sings a familiar folk song* See, this song conveys memories, images that are rooted deeply in me and you. My fashion tries to relate to that.
You are now a quite famous designer, and a face representing the Vietnamese creative industry. How do you manage that celebrity? Is it a burden or a blessing?
If you are used by people, it’s dangerous. If you can influence people, good for you. Ideally, there should be a balanced exchange. Celebrities and their partners exchange leverage and influence, but as an artist, one shouldn’t really care.
What do you think has defined you as a more mature creative?
When I take on multiple projects, I don’t always realize immediately that there’s “too much” going on, but when I look back, I’ve achieved so much in a day. My mindset doesn’t allow me time to stop and complain, so I’ve never had any regrets. I like to say yes to ideas and projects. Always.
Is Vietnam becoming more fashion-savvy?
If you mean understanding more? Not really. But there is the audacity to try, and that’s new. People are less conservative now. Consumers are more and more interested in designer brands than compared to a few years ago, when they only cared for massive commercial names. I believe VIFW helps to promote fashion designers in the eyes of the public.
What is your advice to young people getting into the industry? And how do you define success in fashion?
Young creative professionals often focus on the facade. To them the glitter and fame are success. They might not see the grittiness behind-the-scenes, or the whole chain of efforts of the team. I advise them to find what their dream is, and to fight for it, and realize it. They should not give up in the middle of the nitty-gritty side of their work. You can either work hard for your dream to come true, or the dream will hang in limbo.
Words by vuquan
Photos by Win