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VN, NZ connect cultures via fashion

Update: August, 08/2015 - 08:56

Sharing the runway: Nicola Luey from Auckland University of Technology (left) and Chu Khanh Vy, a senior at Ha Noi University of Industrial Arts (right) hold hands as they greet attendees at the first-ever New Zealand-Viet Nam Fashion Collaboration in HCM City on Thursday. — Photo courtesy of the organiser

HCM CITY (VNS)— Four garments in the "fusion" fashion collection of two student designers, one from Viet Nam and the other from New Zealand, won first prize at the first-ever New Zealand-Viet Nam Fashion Collaboration and Show held on Thursday in HCM City.

The winners, Chu Khanh Vy, a senior at Ha Noi University of Industrial Arts, and Nicola Luey, from the Auckland University of Technology, competed against 20 outstanding fashion design students.

Vy said: "We intended to praise the nature of the two countries, including the beauty of the capes, cliffs, forests, hills and beaches of New Zealand, and nature in the mountainous northern regions of Viet Nam."

The designers said their garments were inspired by the bright patterns and interesting textures of hand-crafted clothing of ethnic minorities living in Viet Nam's mountainous north.

The team also took inspiration from New Zealand's sheep wool for its unique natural qualities, and flax plants whose leaves are used in traditional weaving.

The fabrics combined natural fibres such as wool, linen and traditional woven patterns created by skilled artisans in northern Viet Nam.

Steven Joyce, New Zealand Minister of Tertiary Education, crowned the winning team and gave it a NZ$2,000 cash prize. The second-place team, Brendon Lee and Vo Kim Ngoc, won NZ$1,000.


The event was the sixth major activity this year organised by the New Zealand Embassy to celebrate 40 years of friendship between the two countries.

"Our aim with this project is to connect bright, young, creative students from New Zealand and Viet Nam, and to showcase the creative and innovative side of New Zealand's world-class education institutions to an audience in Viet Nam," said Haike Manning, New Zealand Ambassador to Viet Nam.

"We are really pleased with the innovative, vibrant, unique creations the students have produced. It is fascinating to see how the students have tackled the theme of "fusion", and the connections between our two cultures," she said.

The collaboration formally started in May 2015, when 10 teams, with one Vietnamese and one New Zealand student each, were selected from six top fashion institutions and universities in New Zealand and Viet Nam.

The teams collaborated online to produce a collection of four garments each, based on the theme of "fusion", embodying the common traits, values, and the unique cultural characteristics of each country.

A critical element to the success of the collaboration was how the students worked together long-distance, using technology and IT platforms.

The 10 New Zealand students arrived in Viet Nam on August 1 to finalise their garments with their Vietnamese partners, prior to the fashion show.

The jury included Ambassador Manning, New Zealand fashion designer Tamsin Cooper, Miss Asia USA 2006 Jennifer Pham, and Fashion Mentor & Head Producer of Viet Nam's Project Runway 2014-15 Tung Leo.

The team of Chung Hung Khai and Tia Feng won third prize. Feng said their collection was based on a story about a girl who had gone through a rough road and had overcome obstacles.

Vietnamese student Phung Bach and New Zealand teammate Megan Stewart said their team's collection combined traditional Vietnamese ao dai with selected cultural aspects of New Zealand.

They said they looked into humorous pop culture elements and iconic pop imagery. This included Kiwi slang like ‘sweet as' and Kiwi childhood imagery, such as the ‘Longest Drink in Town' and ‘Tip Top'.

Vietnamese student Hoang Kha and New Zealand teammate Bridget Robertson said in a statement: "We treated this project as a personal story of the coming together of two people whose lives started off as blank slates and have been influenced by many different things and cultures resulting in who they are today."

The team used white as a major part of their collection as it "represents the newborn child who is free from any influence in the world."

They used the colour blue to represent the ocean that surrounds the two countries, and metallic and bold colours to represent "personalities along with popular culture that has influenced our lives".

Their collection also featured hand embroidery incorporating icons from different subcultures as well as influences that have affected them throughout their lives. — VNS

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