After more than two decades of dedication and creating a new era for Vietnamese fashion, fashion design Nguyen Cong Tri has cemented his status in the Vietnamese fashion industry, becoming a great inspiration for young Vietnamese talents not only in fashion, but also for any who love art.
His twenty years of fashion is a journey marked with many ups and downs, but also a lot of miracles. On this journey, Nguyen has been able to wow the industry through his ten Haute couture collections. For him, they are not only achievements, but also “the greatest assets of his life.”
In commemoration and appreciation of the twenty year journey, he decided to organize the Nguyen Cong Tri Fashion & Contemporary Art Exhibition highlighting the show “Cuc Im Lang”. The exhibition is a combination of fashion and contemporary art of the largest scale ever in Vietnam, even in Southeast Asia. The show will recreate the journey of silence, patience, and uncompromising detail of the Cong Tri’s collections from No.1 to No.10 through a contemporary lens of ten artists from Vietnam and abroad.
On the opening stage, although busy with preparation, designer Cong Tri took a moment to share with Vietcetera about why “Cuc Im Lang” is special to him, as well as a few tidbits of his perspectives on the current fashion industry.
Why share this experience with the ten artists participating in this show?
Maybe people will think this is an exhibition that I made with my friends and fellow artists who have accompanied me over the years, but it’s not really. The special feature about this show is that I was connected to the artist through a curator. Our criteria for cooperation has many factors, including the compatibility of our spirits and lifestyles.
Throughout the preparation process for the show, we worked silently and kept our distance from each other to keep our surprise and other emotions to ourselves. Artists see all of the collections, knowing where my inspiration comes from. From there, each artist integrates the spirit and the message of each collection to create a work that has its own mark. Before the launch, I only knew about 30% of the idea with some preliminary images. It wasn’t until the opening that I was able to admire 100% of their finished products, including the scale in terms of materials and magnitude.
I think it’s the true emotion-based dialogue between all ten artists that makes this show special and would stand out anywhere in the world, not just Vietnam.
What is the meaning behind the name “Cuc Im Lang” for you personally?
Cuc Im Lang is a saying that reflects myself. ‘Silence’ is my life philosophy, my way of working. So far I have not been inclined to talk about myself or anything I am doing.
If for some, silent people are synonymous with acceptance or even emptiness, then to me silence is extremely powerful. It helps me focus on the inner world and evokes hidden corners of the soul that are often hard to reach. From there, I can live with creativity and with passion. It has given me the energy to bring me far in my career.
The ‘Cuc’ (meaning: cube) is known as a small figure of matter or just an organization of many individuals with the same orientation. I am a “silent” part of this. The show today is strong contribution of a collective, including a series of individuals and of course including contemporary artists creating great creative works at this exhibition.
In your opinion, what is important for a creative to always remember?
I have never forced myself to try to conquer world catwalks or get international accolades. Goals and plans at work are important, but in my opinion, artistic people shouold not put too much emphasis on it.
I don’t think that simply setting goals and staying on a rigid predetermined path is the way to help us succeed. You have a purpose, but it must always be accompanied by experiences from the soul and the flow of thought that comes from the heart. Only then can you create a finished product that touches the emotions of the people. A designer elaborates and expresses the emotions beautifully through the collections. Besides the quality and attention to detail to catch the trend, every product launched by creatives must be thought out perfectly as well as always contain essential creative elements to help it stand out.
Finally, what constitutes the DNA of Nguyen Cong Tri’s designs?
I think that when coming out of a collection, the emotions at that moment are extremely important. Because it is the ‘material’ that makes the whole of a work. And the issues I care about are also very simple, nothing big. I love the beauty, the traditional values. A series of peaceful features that remind me of my home such as rice, flowers, fields, villages. I always remember this feeling and at the same time it helps to create a strangely homey peace.
From those feelings, I can express and add to these features with a hint of romantic appeal. Designing products means they no longer belong to just me, they connect and evoke a collective harmony between all people. This is an essential value to me. But it also cannot be intentionally achieved. As for the requirements of form, quality of fabric, and the seam…all are technical standards that force any designer to consider with much detail. The difficulty of going to the international fashion catwalk is a measure of how carefully we must adapt to the industry’s strict rules. In art, the final destination is still the soul, the heart, and the emotions. It is only when the emotions of an artist can touch many people, that then their work is elevated.