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Designers struggle to reach haute couture

Update: January, 13/2014 - 08:34

Wardrobe malfunction: Designer Hai Long rushes onto the catwalk to put his arm around model Ngoc Han's waist to stop her gown from sliding down. — Photo vnexpress.net

HA NOI (VNS) — Guests attending a recent haute couture fashion show in Ha Noi were jaw-dropped when the upper section of an off-the-shoulder gown worn by former Miss Vietnam Ngoc Han slowly slid down, threatening to reveal her modesty.

Upon realising the problem, the gown's designer, Hai Long, rushed onto the catwalk stage, putting his arm around the model's waist before taking a bow towards the guests.

Despite the two hastening backstage, the audience was able to see the back of Han's gown completely opened, exposing her bare back.

The gown was presented at the Viet Nam Fashion Week/Spring-Summer 2014, which included the first-ever haute couture show in its 13-year history.

Deriving inspiration from the painting masks worn by tuong (classical drama) artists, the HCM City-based young designer has applied a three-dimensional textile printing technique to create the gown.

Speaking to vnexpress, Long said: "The incident is beyond our expectation. Everything was perfect at the rehearsal. We just discovered the problem with the gown's zipper in the minutes before the show opened. We didn't have time to solve the problem and had to use several safety-pins to hold the back of the gown."

Han, however, was not the only model having outfit problems during the show.

While presenting other designs by Long, model Thuy Trang was wearing ankle booties with a zipper still opened.

Designer Long said he was sorry for the mistake, saying because his crew had only a few minutes for changing clothes, "we could not take care every detail."

Road to high fashion

As haute couture, or high fashion, is still an unfamiliar term for many Vietnamese people, designer Minh Hanh – a well-known name in the Vietnamese fashion industry, who is an organiser of the Viet Nam Fashion Week (VFW), decided to schedule a haute couture show as part of the recent fashion event.

According to Hanh, this show at the VFW aims to create a chance for local designers to learn more about the difficult requirements called for in luxury creations.

However, with so many mistakes occurring during the show, many people have doubts about "Made-in-Viet Nam" haute couture designs, such as whether the quality of these creations deserve to be called haute couture?

On the Oxford dictionary site oxforddictionaries.com, the French term "haute couture" refers to the expensive, fashionable clothing produced by leading fashion houses.

According to HCM City-based designer Quynh Paris, who learned about fashion in Paris, only those brands that satisfy a long list of requirements of a commission [the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture] under the Federation Française de la Couture (French Federation of Couture) can be certified as haute couture designs.

"Every year, the eligible haute couture houses are determined by this commission," she said.

Ngoc Diep, a guest attending the show, said she saw many "problems" during the fashion show.

"Alongside the outfit malfunction, there are some collections that did not deserve to be called ‘haute couture'. I wonder whether the designers who designed those creations understand the definition of this term?" asked Diep.

"Not mentioning malfunctions, even a minor mistake is unacceptable for any haute couture creation or shows. The clients of this high fashion are extremely demanding. For them, perfect is the only requirement," said Aki Quang – director of TV fashion show Thoi Trang&Nhan Vat (Fashion&Personality).

Agreeing with Quang, Quynh Paris also told vnexpress: "A couturier never allows him or herself to make any mistake."

Also, an anonymous stylist criticised designer Long on his gown's performance.

"Although he acknowledged the [zipper] problem before the show, he still let it go. It is completely against basic fashion principles. That means he expressed his disrespect to audiences, and to his own designs," he added.

To reply to criticisms claiming the wrong size gown caused the problem, model Ngoc Han affirmed "the gown is fit."

The model, who is a graduate in fashion design, said at that moment during the show she could not think about anything but to stage the gown.

"I thought, ‘our fashion industry has faced many challenges, instead of looking at the mistakes, why we do not support potential young designers?'

"I knew that I might regret if I didn't wear it and present it on the catwalk stage. It is a very, very beautiful design, which was created with a lot of time and effort by the designer. That's why I decided to keep it on," said Han.

Basically, a haute couture show must bring together only couturiers. But at this show, alongside some big names of Viet Nam's fashion industry, there were designers who have not made their name yet.

"The show seems to change the meaning of ‘haute couture'. It should be called ‘a high applicable fashion show' instead of ‘haute couture'," said TV show director Aki Quang.

The leading designer, Do Manh Cuong, who also spent years living and working in Paris – one of four principal fashion capitals in the world, said high fashion does not exist in Viet Nam.

"In France, it takes about 4-5 months to complete a haute couture collection, which costs about US$20,000-60,000 per gown. In Viet Nam, most of the designers are confused, when asked about the value of their high fashion creations. They simply create a design without understanding its value," he said.

He also said if Vietnamese designers do not devote time and thinking to learn about the true meaning of the term "haute couture," they will remain far from these luxury designs. — VNS



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