Over the past few years, aside from Vietnam International Fashion Week (VIFW) and other home-based fashion events like the Elle Fashion Show and the Fashionology Festival, Vietnamese designers have received a large number of invitations to present their collections in major fashion weeks around the world. This is indicative of the remarkable strides into the global high-end fashion market Vietnamese designers have taken.
In this article, we spotlight seven respected designers and younger talents who are shaping the Vietnamese fashion scene focused on ‘haute couture’ and ready-to-wear garments for women.
1. Nguyen Cong Tri: The pioneer of Vietnamese haute couture
Among the top Vietnamese designers today, Nguyen Cong Tri is perhaps the most recognized name. As a graduate of Ho Chi Minh City University of the Arts, Nguyen Cong Tri immediately impressed the industry with his very first collection “Green Leaves”. Inspired by Vietnam’s military, it won first prize in the “New Idea” category at the Vietnam Collection Grand Prix 2000.
In 2011, Nguyen Cong Tri launched Kin Concept, a ready-to-wear label for urban women. Since then, the designer has continued to evolve, and more recently developed an interest in avant-garde fashion, which is why he decided to found The House of NGUYEN CONG TRI, concentrated on haute couture design and employing handmade techniques like hand-ironed pleating, interlacing and sequin embellishments.
Until now, Nguyen Cong Tri has successfully introduced seventeen collections to the world that include, most notably, his latest, “Em Hoa”, which garnered widespread media attention after being featured in Vogue fashion magazine while being worn by singers like Rihanna and Katy Perry. For his outstanding contribution to the Vietnamese Haute Couture Industry, in 2014 Nguyen Cong Tri was the first Vietnamese to be recognized by the Asian Couture Federation.
2. Thuy Nguyen: The woman of brocade
Born and raised in Hanoi, the nation’s capital, designer Thuy Nguyen was strongly inspired by traditional art and Asian paintings from an early age. This passion was behind her founding of The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre in Ho Chi Minh City, in 2016. In fact, before shifting to fashion, she majored in Fine Art and successfully defended her doctoral thesis at the Kiev Fine Art University.
Thuy Nguyen founded Thuy Design House in 2011 with hopes of blending art and fashion. Her garments are a perfect balance of clean cuts, luxury fabrics, and bold patterns. She expresses her obsession with traditional values through signature designs, Asian paintings on traditional Vietnamese silk brocades, and by reimagining Vietnam’s traditional dress, the “ao dai”. Recently her designs were even the star of a movie, “Co Ba Saigon”, about an ao dai tailors in pre-75 Saigon.
Read our full article about the evolution of the ao dai here.
3. Xuan Thu Nguyen: The evocative storyteller
Long before coming back and opening VIFW Spring Summer 2017, Dutch-Vietnamese designer Xuan-Thu Nguyen had been recognized worldwide as a guest member of France’s Haute Couture Federation. Added to that, her collections have been exhibited in global fashion capitals like Paris, New York, Milan, and Tokyo.
Born into a family with a strong tradition of craftsmanship, Nguyen decided to study at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute and founded her own atelier in Paris in 2001, making both haute couture and ready-to-wear collections. Nguyen’s impeccable contemporary cuts are infused with poetic details such as handmade embroidery. For Nguyen, fashion isn’t just fashion, but a dialogue between art, clothing, and textile.
4. Devon Nguyen: The fierce woman
Devon Nguyen, a Poland-based designer, shifted from Central Saint Martins to The London College of Fashion to pursue her passion for womenswear. In 2011, she returned to Vietnam and founded Devon London.
With a core aesthetic that combines both masculine and feminine styles, Devon focuses on innovative silhouettes with a distinctive use of digital printing and bold embroidery. With six years of experience, Devon’s collections have conquered fashion runways from Vietnam to Paris, and have become favorite choices of top fashion magazines such as Fabulous UK, Dep and Harper’s BAZAAR.
5. Tran Phuong My: The millennial couturier
Having graduated from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco, Tran Phuong My came back to Ho Chi Minh City to open her own custom label, Phuong My, in 2013. After that, she launched MYMY by PHUONG MY, a more accessible offshoot of the label, in 2015.
Strongly influenced by the image of Asian women and their exquisite virtues, Phuong My’s designs emphasize feminine silhouettes with a modern twist. To achieve exclusivity, she directly imports luxury fabrics from Paris, Milan, and Hong Kong. With the worldwide success her two labels have achieved, Phuong My has been named one of the top 30 most successful Vietnamese people under 30 by Forbes Vietnam in 2015.
6. Lam Gia Khang: The breakthrough designer
Lam Gia Khang, born in 1990, is a breakthrough designer in the Vietnamese fashion industry. As a fresh graduate from The London College for Design and Fashion, he won the first prize in the Vietnam Belve Fashion Design Awards 2012 and was the runner-up in Project Runway 2013. Two years later, in 2015, Khang was also named in the top 30 most successful people under 30 in Forbes Vietnam.
He opened his eponymous brand in 2014 to showcase ready-to-wear collections inspired by images of elegant, chic downtown girls. And Lam Gia Khang still produces distinctly modern feminine tailoring using high-end fabrics and employing skilled folding techniques. His attire can be seen on numerous covers of ELLE Vietnam and Harper’s BAZAAR Vietnam.
7. Ngo Thai Bao Loan: The young upstart
Having a professional profile similar to Lam Gia Khang, Ngo Thai Bao Loan was also born in 1990, graduated from The London College for Design and Fashion and participated in Project Runway 2013. However, Loan’s design philosophy is more quirky, which developed from her interest in unisex clothing, and style influences that include architectural forms.
Loan has been building her independent boutique, NGOTHAIBAOLOAN, since 2013. Proficient in pattern-making and folding, her trademark motifs are 3D and asymmetric shapes, creating timeless essentials for women who are menswear enthusiasts too. With four years of experience, Loan is a designer who shows great promise in the Vietnamese fashion industry.