Designer Nguyen Cong Tri, one of the biggest names in contemporary Vietnamese fashion, just returned from the Origin-Passion & Be Life exhibition in Italy's Vincenza. He spoke to Thy Khac about his career and international experience.
Inner Sanctum: Your designs have been displayed in many big catwalks around the world. This trip seems have been a very emotional one. Why?
This exhibition gathered more than 100 temporary designers reaching haute couture standards. They were chosen from 15,000 designers from across the world. I was chosen as the only representative of Viet Nam. This made me and my colleagues very happy.
Inner Sanctum: It is good news that you are the only Vietnamese designer recently to be allowed into the Asian Haute Couture Fashion Association. Will you take this opportunity to open your outlets abroad in the future?
Opening a fashion outlet abroad is not easy. I have to try my best to improve my work and products. It is an attractive goal for me to conquer. I hope in the next five years, I will have more to show apart from fashion.
Inner Sanctum: Your name is already prominent in Viet Nam but has this trip given you recognition in this world of fashion?
I think that the world is becoming more and more flat so exchanging views between designers has become an indispensable part of life. It means I need to define my position in the fashion world. What I need most to do is to devote myself to my work. It's possible that the fashion world does not know much about me or maybe they only know about me through a website of Not Just A Label, a unit chosen by me to be a part of the Italy exhibition. If they visit the website, I'm confident I can impress them.
Inner Sanctum: You are conscientious and have rarely appeared before the public but recently you were a jury member on numerous TV shows on fashion. What is your aim? Are you trying to seek new "prominent bright faces" for Vietnamese fashion?
Yes, apart from seeking new designers for Viet fashion, I join TV contests to exchange views and share my knowledge with young contestants and also learn from them. The fashion sector is something very different from others. I could have a lot more experiences as compared to other professions but creativity and passion have nothing to do with age. I'm very happy because the vitality and enthusiasm of young contestants sometimes inspires me.
Inner Sanctum: Have you discovered any young talent for the Vietnamese fashion industry?
Yes, I have. However, in my experience, being honoured at a contest does not mean I will be a success. What is important is that we do our work with passion. By doing so you could have a solid and bright future.
Inner Sanctum: It is said that you like to work with model Thanh Hang among others. Could you explain why?
Hang is very intelligent and is strict and professional with her work. We have perfect co-ordination together because we've been working together for a long time. I am not in the habit of praising someone but I hope she will remain a bright star in the Vietnamese fashion industry.
Inner Sanctum: What do you think about the future of Vietnamese fashion?
I'm optimistic about Vietnamese fashion although it grows slowly but gradually because we have periodical programmes and prestigious media outlets to update with news and international fashion trends. Contests and TV shows have equipped people with knowledge and a general view on fashion. These programmes have discovered many new designers and created favourable conditions for them to build their career. However, I'm worried about the fluctuating market so I have to try my best to improve my products and services to overcome this.
Inner Sanctum: Last year, you were successful at your show named Thanks Sai Gon. What is new this year?
Sorry. Let me keep it a secret until later this year!
Inner Sanctum: Could you explain your trademark KIN?
It's my nickname. I use it to name my designs but I always write on my work: KIN by Nguyen Cong Tri because that is how my work is being recognised. — VNS