Ao dai designer – Cong Tri

September 30, 2008

Tailoring success

With 1,500 pieces of fashion on his resume, a local designer has reached the heights of acclaim yet still works tirelessly to innovate beauty.

Known for his “rebellious” ideas, original styles, visually attractive colors and decorative patterns, Nguyen Cong Tri’s favorite collection entitled “Blood” debuted in 2006.

“While blood is often associated with death and ending, I believe blood marks the beginning,” the designer said. “I’m inspired by it.”

Perhaps the raw color best captures Tri’s passion as a designer, as he had cultivated his dreams of being in the fashion business as a youth growing up in a poor neighborhood in central Da Nang City.

Born in 1978 into a large family, Tri, like many countryside youths, left his hometown for Ho Chi Minh City where he graduated from the Department of Industrial Arts at the HCMC Architecture University in 2002.

He first gained recognition when he won prizes at the Vietnam Collection competition and Asia Collection Makuhari contest in Japan, both in 2000. A year later, Tri nabbed the second prize at the Fashion Collection Singapore contest.

Cong Tri’s designs, worn by famous model Xuan Lan (above) and Miss Universe Vietnam’s second runner-up Duong Truong Thien Ly, maximize delicate fabrics and bright hues.

His designs have been displayed at major shows in Vietnam and abroad ever since. Notable collections include Sac Mau Mua Ha (The colors of summer), Tay Keo Mong Du (Sleepwalking scissors) and Sieu Thoat (Salvation).

One of his designs, a black and red party gown which he adorned with nature-inspired pictures and matched with strokes of body paint, debuted at Vietnam Fashion Week in April 2003to critical acclaim.

His designs helped famous model Xuan Lan achieve a top 10 finish at the Models’ Olympics held in Shanghai in 2003.

Celebrity threads

Tri has long contributed to the beauty and success of Vietnamese celebrities in their careers.

Famed pop singer Minh Thuan was Tri’s first celebrity client. Other singers such as My Tam, Viet Quang and Thanh Thao followed suit in commissioning him to make stage outfits as well as casual wear.

Designing for singers is a time-consuming task, according to Tri, as he usually queries them about the songs they plan to perform, the accompanying dances and their sartorial and performing styles.

Originality is a key element in designing singers’ clothing as the performers always want to look their best in front of the public, but don’t want their outfits to imitate those of their colleagues.

The most important thing is to ensure the outfits are trendy yet elegant and practical, and are able to highlight the artist’s glamor but not clash with traditional perceptions.

“Despite these challenges, I love designing for singers as the glittery outfits capture the charged atmosphere onstage and its fantastical characteristics,” Tri said. “Singers have different styles and requirements and catering to them helps me hone my skills.”

Sometimes Vietnamese singers commit fashion faux pas, but in general each has their own distinctive style, Tri said.

Hardwork pays

At 30-year-old, Tri has worked ceaselessly both as a designer and a businessman.

He believes that Vietnam designers must sell their own products and thus has opened his own fashion and advertising company.

His trademark Kin and Nguyen Cong Tri is well-known in the local market. Having graduated specializing in graphic design, his company also creates compact disc covers for music albums.

“Unlike those who think doing business hampers a designer’s creativity, I think these two fields complement each other well and have helped me to advance my career,” Tri said.

A perfectionist who steers clear of the vices in the celebrity world, Tri continues to introduce aesthetically pleasing and highly creative fashion pieces that wow the public and delight their owners.

The designer stresses that hard work and dedication are key to success in the fashion industry.

“Clients are choosy nowadays, they make smart choices in their clothes and keep abreast of all the latest international trends,” he said. “Since I was a child, I had been taught by my mother to work hard and dream big in order to achieve all that my heart desires.”

Reported by Diem Thu