Finnish designer Hanna Saren, who heads a popular fashion brand in Helsinki, will tonight join four Vietnamese designers in the Ecomia Autumn-Winter Fashion Show at the Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel.
The show, part of the Viet Nam-Finland Innovation Forum, will highlight the themes of ecological sustainability and "looking toward the future".
Starting out in the fashion industry as a shoe designer, Saren now designs clothes and accessories for women and men. She has been regularly featured in famous fashion shows like Finnish Fashion and Design in Iceland (2013), Helsinki Fashion Summit (2012), the Finland Collection exhibition in Tokyo (2006) and Swarovski's Crystallised show in Copenhagen (2006).
She chats with Culture Vulture on this occasion.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
My very first collection was launched in Japan by a high fashion company. They launched my first items of wooden handbags and shoes throughout the entire country. Then they wanted my clothes too, so I designed a collection for women and men that was successful.
After that I started to have crystals in my collections for European and American department stores. We first went to Paris Fashion Week in 2001 to show my collections to the clients. We had appointments with famous department stores and boutiques.
That's how I started. After that we started to sell my brand in Finland.
What are the big trends coming through in this year's autumn-winter fashion?
Globally, the fashion industry is very aware of environmental issues. I think all designers are taking part in this: helping to keep our environment clean and safe. For us, for me, for our brand [Hanna Saren], it's a lifestyle and our mindset.
This season the colours are very bright. The winter collection is all about silk, virgin wool, knits. It's soft, warm and easy to wear.
What about your collection that you bring here?
The name of our collection is Day Dreaming, which includes 15 pieces. It's all about silk and prints. For example, the print I'm wearing now is a concept of the sky and the sea and their reflections of each other.
The other prints have strong geometrics. There are triangles, how to form them, how to use them in a 3D space, how to use them as a platform for the colourful print.
People are now so stressed and have no time to relax. My collection is about getting your mind at ease.
What do you think about Vietnamese fashion designers ?
I have met one Vietnamese designer before [coming here]. He's very professional. I think his thinking of fashion is very much like others around the world.
They are all ambitious and passionate about colour, materials and beautiful pieces.
When we go to Paris, Japan or Italy, we are on the same wavelength. When we talk with them, we are like a big family.
Of course, the culture is different. I have to say that I haven't seen much Vietnamese fashion. I will see more domestic designs tonight.
They are very feminine and want to make women feel more beautiful. They appreciate the beauty of femininity; the silk and handicraft is at a very high level. I can see the beauty of Asian culture very strongly reflected in their designs.
I have already been impressed with the Vietnamese collections tonight.
Have you got any plans to exchange and co-operate with Vietnamese partners ?
We hope that our future market expands to include the whole world, so our collection is international. Every piece is interesting in Japan, America and Europe.
I hope that we will have something in co-operation with Vietnamese designers. It would be very fun and interesting. I have seen some shoe and handbag factories in Ha Noi.
It's been very interesting to talk with them and they are very open-minded. I hope that we can collaborate in future.
I was particularly impressed with the wooden shoes and the idea of making traditional bamboo shoes made by artisan Truong Cong Duc from Yen Xa Village [on the outskirts of Ha Noi].
Wood is a very economical material to use; long-lasting and beautiful. There is plenty of wood in Finland but it is so heavy and I could not bring any here. I hope I can take some wooden shoes from Viet Nam home.
I have seen that the wooden shoes made by Vietnamese artisans are so light and easy to wear.
The task for me now is to enhance [Vietnamese wood shoes] as a trendy and fashionable part of my brand. — VNS