Ao dai designer – Kieu Viet Lien
September 30, 2008
Designer Kieu Viet Lien studied designing in Australia, graduated and continued her designing education in Canada for an additional two years. To further her study in design and fashion, she stayed in Paris for two years while attending designing school Esmod in France.
After finishing her studies, she return to Viet Nam and established her own designing company with the goal to further develop the Vietnamese fashion industry and make a distinct impact at home and abroad.
Her designs aim for everyday wear that is chic and casual.
You may visit her website and see her complete collection.
|Vietnamese Fashion Brands in Foreign Countries|
| Such Vietnamese fashion designers’ names as Sy Hoang, Minh Hanh, Lien Huong, Kieu Viet Lien, Le Minh Khoa, Vo Viet Chung and so on are no longer strange to international trading partners who are interested in Vietnamese fashions since their products have step by step approached the world fashion market.
One can be very sursprised to find that there are several fashion shops named Le Minh Khoa and his products displayed in luxury shops in Hong Kong, one of Asia’s leading fashion centers, and his shops are also present in China’s Guangzhou province.
“In fact, my clients are those who have been to many countries in the world. American customers have showed their surprise when seeing Vietnamese fashion designs, saying that Vietnamese fashions are opulent-oriented from their design to their material. I believe that our fashion industry will have an opportunity to approach the world fashion market in the future.” Khoa said.
“The itinerary for the fashion brand Viet Hung to set one foot onto foreign markets is not easy since only one mistake could make our products supplanted by others”, said fashion designer Viet Hung, who owns four shops in the U.S, two in Canada, two in Australia, two in Germany and one in Czech.
”I am trying to raise my shops in Japan to over 30. My handmade products are mostly wedding dresses, blankets, pillows and mattresses.” he added.
Kieu Viet Lien, one of Vietnamese leading fashion designers, is known for her most favorite designs of wedding and evening dresses, especially hand-embroidered items.
Lien said that silk, velvet, taffta and lace are materials favored by foreign customers.
Meanwhile Japanese, Singaporean and Australian customers are so fond of young designer Cong Tri’s designs. And Lien Huong is known not only for her beautiful Ao dai designs but also for her wedding dresses and renovated suits throughout the world.
Fashion shows featuring Vietnamese designers’ products in such countries as France, Canada, Japan, U.S, China, Hong Kong, Italia, etc have recently made strong impression on the viewers.
”It is easy to recognize a fashion collection of Vietnamese fashion designers among hundreds of other opulent collections” , a Japanese regular customer of Cong Tri said.
These designers always try their best to integrate Vietnamese fashion industry into the world market, expecting Vietnamese fashion designs to be equal with the world’s leading brand names.
Source TN – Translated by Kim Khanh
On Nguyen Trai Street, Kieu Viet Lien has brought her new moped indoors. The 25-year-old designer is kneeling on the floor of her shop surrounded by paper patterns and pieces of green silk, preparing for a fashion competition. From his office in an advertising agency across town, Pham Phu Xuan, 31, can see the storm approaching too. He is on the phone setting up a TV shoot for a shampoo commercial. Hong Nhung, 30, one of Vietnam’s most popular singers, is working out in her gym in the Saigon Center. Drops of rain are starting to splash on the windows–and she has to get to a rehearsal later for a concert she is giving over the weekend. Only Nguyen Quang Huy is oblivious to the coming deluge. The 21-year-old bar owner and music promoter is shut in a soundproof recording studio in his home, coaching a new band.
Lien, Xuan, Nhung and Huy have never met, but they are from the same generation–those for whom the war never happened. Children of one of the starkest generation gaps in the world, they have no interest in hearing about the hardships their parents endured in a war that ended a quarter-century ago. All four are Vietnamese but have ambivalent feelings about Vietnam, a country no longer communist but not yet democratic or free.
Through them and others like them, Vietnam is remaking itself. As the aged cadres in Hanoi debate whether private enterprise is a good thing, young entrepreneurs in Saigon have already decided. Youthful rebelliousness in Vietnam, once channeled collectively into war, now expresses itself on an individual level, as a fierce will to get ahead. They have not lost the tenacity and endurance of their parents. But learning from the West, this is a generation no longer afraid to say “me.”
Theirs is a world of cell phones, mopeds, long days at work and long evenings in coffee shops. All four have complicated, busy lives, careers they forged on their own and ambitions to take them to the top. They have grown up to be self-reliant in uncertain times, with little guidance from their elders. Sex before marriage–“eating rice before the bell,” as it is sometimes called–is the norm. All have acquaintances who do drugs, a haven for those who don’t know where else to go.
They are determined to get on with their lives, to make up for lost time since the communists took over and dumped Vietnam at the bottom of Asia’s economic league. Vietnam’s per capita gross national product is a paltry $350 a year, according to the World Bank, compared with $510 for sub-Saharan Africa. In February, Le Kha Phieu, the 68-year-old Communist Party chief who runs the country, lashed out at “imperialist forces [who] have expanded the world market everywhere for maximum profit.” Such rhetoric flies over the heads of the younger generation. Its members are reading from a different script, a script they had to write themselves.
Kieu Viet Lien started at less than zero. She was born in prison in 1974. Her mother had been jailed as a Viet Cong agent. They were not released until April 1975, when North Vietnamese forces overran Saigon. Lien was schooled in the city, renamed Ho Chi Minh City by the victors. When she was 18 she got lucky: her application for a visa to study fashion in Australia was accepted. After three years in Melbourne, she went to Canada in 1996 for two years and then spent a year in Paris. There she fell in love with French style. “Christian Lacroix, Galliano–I have a taste for the elegant,” she says, pointing to a rack of sumptuous $200 wedding dresses in the back of her shop. “I want to make Vietnamese look beautiful.” But in a city where a college graduate would be happy to land a job paying $100 a month, her $12 shirts and $30 dresses are for only a small number of young people with money.
The manic pace of Saigon carries over to the streets, where swarms of motorbikes zip through intersections. Cars are too expensive, but the motorbike is at the top of everyone’s must-have list. Young bloods race them after dark, and couples use them as a place of intimacy: Vietnamese don’t kiss in public, but women know how to hug their boyfriends tightly from behind.
Pham Phu Xuan borrowed money to buy a motorbike the day he got his current job as production manager for J. Walter Thompson. “I was so happy. It was the first thing I did,” he says about that day four years ago. There were 1,000 applicants for just five jobs, and Xuan had neither a college degree nor money to buy a suit and tie for the interview. His friends told him he was wasting his time. They didn’t know him well enough.
Eighth in a family of 10, Xuan was brought up in a poor village seven hours from Saigon, and realized early that there was no future for him in the countryside. In 1985, at 16, he moved to Saigon, got a job repairing electronic equipment and taught himself English. “I knew I must be successful. I could not afford to lose.” Many of the boys he left behind in his village have no jobs. Half have started using heroin, he says. Full of self-confidence, Xuan began coordinating TV and photo shoots for the agency, and after a while made some trips around Asia. He was shocked at the prosperity of Bangkok, Singapore, Seoul. “Vietnam is the slowest country in the region. We are very behind.”
Xuan resolved to find a way to move to the U.S.–home to nearly a million Vietnamese. This month he married his childhood sweetheart, a girl from his village who had managed to get a highly valued exit visa in the 1980s and settled in Minnesota. She flew to Saigon for the wedding, but Xuan knows it will still take years for the U.S. consulate to process his visa request to join her. “I know it will not be easy in America. I will always miss my family here. But I need to try something bigger.”
The government is ambivalent about the flood of Vietnamese who have been returning from America since Washington normalized relations with Hanoi in 1995. It welcomes their dollars, yet is wary of their politics. But if any revolution is coming from these returning Viet Kieu, as the overseas Vietnamese are called, it will probably have to do with transforming the lifestyles and expectations of younger Vietnamese.
Nguyen Quang Huy sees a lot of Viet Kieu in his bar, the Hot Club. “The younger ones we can get on with,” he says. “It is the older ones who are difficult sometimes, with their memories of before.” He is leaning against the counter, drinking a Corona and watching one of the bands he is promoting. They begin with a love song. Huy frowns. “Now that could be a problem for us if the police come in.” The song is by a Vietnamese band in the U.S. “Not allowed here.” More than anything, Huy wants to make money. Fast. “Business is good. Artists paint so many pictures. Why? To make money. Singers write songs–to make money. With money you can live.” Huy wanted to study in the U.S. but couldn’t get a visa. He says it doesn’t matter much. “I can get what I need from the Internet.” The bar is doing so well that he plans to open a second one. He’s hoping to begin shooting music videos of his best acts. “You know the real problem with Vietnamese bands?” says Huy. “They don’t smile. When an American band is onstage, everyone is smiling.” Sure enough, the guitar, bass and keyboard players look as if they are waiting for a bus. Huy drains his Corona. “I have to teach them that.”
It is a whole new world. Vietnam’s younger generation has escaped from under the very eyes of the government, which didn’t even see them going. The party’s authority no longer crosses the generation gap, and a huge empty space has opened up in society for youngsters to prosper–or self-destruct. A 15-min. cell-phone call in Saigon costs the same as a single hit of heroin in one of the city’s public parks.
The rain held off over the weekend. Lien and her fiance went out for dinner with some friends to a restaurant where the waitresses sing as they deliver the food. Xuan ducked work in order to spend time with his soon-to-be wife–his first holiday since 1996. Nhung was onstage in the Long Phung Culture Center, singing the songs of Trinh Cong Son to a rapt audience. And Huy was back in the Hot Club, coaxing another new act, looking for that smile.
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Nhà thiết kế thời trang Kiều Việt Liên: “Thời trang phải luôn luôn mới”
|Thứ hai, 20 Tháng mười một 2006, 17:10 GMT+7||
Có lẽ ấn tượng đầu tiên về nhà thiết kế thời trang Kiều Việt Liên là phong cách giản dị, lối nói chuyện cởi mở. Chị tâm sự về nghề nghiệp một cách thực tế: “Nghề nào có bề nổi, đều có sự va chạm giữa con người với nhau.
Cần có sự bản lĩnh, bình tĩnh để mình không bay theo danh vọng, biết mình đang ở đâu. Đôi khi tiếng tăm làm cho mình không tỉnh táo”. “Chân phải đạp đất”, Kiều Việt Liên luôn tự nhủ mình như thế.
Làm quen với sân khấu từ năm 3 – 14 tuổi (đội múa Nhà Văn hoá Thiếu nhi TPHCM), cái đẹp thấm dần vào Việt Liên. Năm chị học lớp 7, mẹ chị chuyển sang làm hiệu trưởng trường Sư phạm kỹ thuật, dạy về thủ công, mỹ thuật. Lên lớp 11, Kiều Việt Liên được gia đình cho đi du học về chuyên ngành thiết kế thời trang tại Australia, Canada, Pháp trong 5 năm rưỡi.
Bộ sưu tập đầu tiên của Kiều Việt Liên là bộ sưu tập thời trang tốt nghiệp tại Canada, do một tay chị chọn vải, tự cắt, may, đính hạt… “từ A đến Z”. Học về ngành thời trang cao cấp nhưng Việt Liên chưa thật sự đầu tư công sức nhiều. Theo chị thì: “Nếu áp dụng toàn bộ kiến thức đã học bên nước ngoài cho thời trang trong nước thì sẽ không phù hợp.
Thời trang cao cấp bên đó hầu như đều phải làm bằng tay, tốn công phu, tốn thời gian, từ nguyên vật liệu, đến phụ liệu giá thành đều rất cao, nếu bê nguyên xi về ta thì…”. Câu nói bỏ lửng như nỗi băn khoăn của chị khi nhận được lời mời đứng lớp ở Cao đẳng Mỹ thuật trang trí Đồng Nai.
Kiều Việt Liên tỏ ra thán phục làng thiết kế thời trang trong nước với nét lãng mạn, bay bổng của Lê Minh Khoa, thích màu sắc, sử dụng chất liệu, thêu của nhà thiết kế Minh Hạnh; cái trẻ trung, hiện đại và lãng mạn của Hà Thúc Nhật Minh…: “Hầu hết các nhà thiết kế thời trang nổi tiếng của mình hiện nay lại chưa qua một trường lớp nào hết.
Họ có năng khiếu và tự học là chính. Tôi thấy họ quá giỏi! Chẳng hạn như tôi học ngành thời trang cao cấp nhưng còn chưa áp dụng được hết; trong khi đó các nhà thiết kế thời trang nước ta luôn hướng tới làm sao để cho thời trang VN phải là thời trang cao cấp”. Ngay cả khi tổ chức một sô diễn thời trang, các nhà thiết kế đứng vai trò tổ chức như Kiều Việt Liên đôi lúc vẫn còn cảm thấy ngập ngừng, vừa bởi kinh phí, và vừa bởi dàn người mẫu chưa có trình độ thống nhất, đồng bộ.
“Thời trang phải luôn luôn mới”, đó là mục đích của Kiều Việt Liên tự đặt ra cho mình. Đồ mới để trưng bày trong shop; đồ mới được thiết kế theo yêu cầu khách hàng; và mỗi tháng, mỗi mùa phải có bộ sưu tập mới. Chị vạch hướng đi cụ thể: “Ngành thời trang VN có hai dịp biểu diễn lớn: tuần lễ thời trang Xuân Hè và tuần lễ thời trang Thu Đông. Tham gia tuần lễ thời trang là một yếu tố thúc đẩy, khẳng định mình có phong cách làm việc chuyên nghiệp, và cũng là một cách làm mới mình.
Có thiết kế, luôn luôn có cái lạ và thực tế”, đó là cách nhìn nhận của người trong nghề về Kiều Việt Liên. Tiêu chí của Việt Liên đó là đồ thiết kế ra phải mặc được – trừ khi thiết kế cho ca sĩ thì cần cái lạ nhưng phải có giới hạn. Câu đầu tiên Việt Liên hỏi khách hàng luôn luôn là: “Anh/chị đang muốn cái gì?”.
Dựa trên ý thích của khách hàng, Việt Liên thiết kế sao cho vừa ý khách mà vẫn mang một phong cách của Việt Liên. Có thể thiết kế thời trang vừa thời trang trẻ, đồ cưới, dạ hội, đồ bầu,… nhưng sở thích và thế mạnh của Kiều Việt Liên là đồ cưới. Chính trên ý thích được bay bổng, với những nét lãng mạn đầy duyên dáng, sáng tạo, những nét cắt mềm mại, uyển chuyển, linh động thể hiện trên trang phục rõ nét nữ tính.
Mới đây, Công ty thiết kế Việt Liên của chị đã cho ra đời thương hiệu mới: Babilon, điều này càng khẳng định bản lĩnh của một nhà thiết kế thời trang VN trong thời điểm VN hội nhập quốc tế.
Theo Lao động
Kieu Viet Lien
A generation of young designers is confident that Vietnamese fashion will one day become popular abroad.
“It will take at least 10-15 years before we develop that.”
Viet, who has seen his stylized ao dais – the graceful Vietnamese tunic – strutted on international catwalks, says the most important ingredient missing on the local fashion scene is the raw materials industry.
To make ao dais, he imports most other raw materials, except silk that is produced locally, from India and Hong Kong.
Viet says in developed fashion industries such as the US and France, designers and textile producers work closely to create new types of fabrics for different collections.
Vietnamese designers, however, do not have that luxury as local producers are “either not yet capable of producing new fabric on their own,” or refuse designers’ orders which are usually too small to fetch profits.
One of the few successful female designers, the French-educated Kieu Viet Lien, agrees.
Considering that other countries spent decades building their fashion industries, new players like Vietnam have no choice but to learn from their experiences, she says.
“The more we learn from them the better.”
Foreign fashion designers’ key to success, she says, is their professional marketing and brand name development.
Designers’ shops, for instance, are often located in “strategic” places to enhance public awareness and prestige.
Vietnamese designers are as creative and talented as their foreign counterparts, which she says raises hopes that the country can develop its distinctive fashion brands – as long as it sticks to what it sees as attractive.
“We should not pay too much attention to fashion trends,” Lien cautions.
“Fashion trends do not last.”
Local designers should “determine and maintain” their own styles to show the world something “outstanding and different.”
Designer Vo Viet Chung, the first Vietnamese designer to be featured on French channel Fashion TV, admits Vietnamese designers’ styles are not appropriate for practical use.
“Most designers, especially the young, like to create impressive collections that are suitable for the catwalk rather than street walk,” he says.
A good idea will be to infuse traditional elements into modern clothes to create a unique blend that will make Vietnamese designs distinct, he says.
Long gone is the time when the country was simply waiting for foreign brands to come and show what they had to offer, he says.
“Now is the time local designers should jump onto the scene.”
Chung and Viet both have plans to take their collections abroad this summer: the former to two international fashion shows in France and the US, and the later to Japanese.
Chung also plans to introduce a new line called RubyVo with which he aims to target the wider Asian market.
RubyVo clothes include distinctively East Asian designs ranging from the dragon to the lotus, and make use of regionally-produced fabrics.
For his part, Viet aims for much more than just building on the traditional dress.
“One day, when my ao dais are more known on the international market, I will start thinking about Western-style clothes.”
Fashion industry needs fresh talent
With limited international success to date on the fashion scene, young Vietnamese designers need an influx of international training and exchange to improve upon garment industry styles.
With some success on international catwalks, poor designs and an inability to build international trademarks plague the Vietnamese fashion industry.
Over the last 10 years, young designers like Vo Viet Chung, Le Minh Khoa, Cong Tri, Quoc Binh, Truong Thanh Long, Trong Nguyen, Kieu Viet Lien, and Ngo Thai My Uyen have emerged as new faces among veteran designers like Minh Hanh and Si Hoang.
Ngo Thai Uyen won third prize in a regional fashion competition held in Singapore in 1997 and Vo Viet Chung received a top prize at the Makuhari Fashion Competition for young designers in Japan in the same year.
Designer Si Hoang, an expert in designing traditional dress ao dai said that Vietnamese designers often equate fashion with the so called haute couture, the glamorous, high profile, high profit side of style.
“Haute couture, of course, gives designers an opportunity to show off their creative skills, but it is not the only line of business in the fashion industry. This sector must know about designing and manufacturing garments for high volume retail sales,” he said.
Critics of the domestic industry said most designers simply copy or improvise Western and Chinese designs. But young designers in Viet Nam should seek to assert a separate identity with works partly inspired by Vietnamese traditions to catch the eye of foreign designers.
With living standards improving drastically in Viet Nam and people becoming more concerned about appearance, the fashion industry has a bright future. Fabric selection is now more important than ever as discerning shoppers can feel the difference in quality silk, cotton or linen.
Young designers need to seize the opportunity of stylising clothing for the new discerning and modern Vietnamese consumers. Industry experts think that the only way this is possible is for designers to increase exchange with international clothiers.
Vo Viet Chung also complained that Vietnamese designers seem to return to the same old fabrics and designs, without incorporating fresh ideas to attract buyers.
Minh Hanh, director of the HCM City Fashion Design Institute (FADIN) said that young designers have rich ideas and use a lot of embroidery and Vietnamese silk, but they lack basic fashion techniques.
“We have a lot of factories, which can make good quality products, but they lack fresh designs. I think if we have young designers who have learned and trained more in international fashion, the reputation of the Vietnamese fashion industry would grow rapidly,” Hanh said. — VNS