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Slaves to fashion? No way, say industry pros

Update: July, 04/2016 - 09:00
Traditional: Young actress Angela Phương Trinh of HCM City at the 69th Cannes Film Festival in a silk dress embroidered with folk art made by artisans from Bắc Ninh Province’s Đông Hồ Village. — Photo courtesy of Angela Phương Trinh’s Facebook
Viet Nam News

Thanks to TV shows like Vit Nam’s Next Top Model as well as social media and film stars, the image of the local “fashionista” has emerged as a powerful role model. Thu Anh reports.

HCM CITY — Young Vietnamese fashion professionals, often known in the media as “fashionistas”, are out to show the world that local design can proudly stand along the best from Hong Kong, Tokyo, Milan or Paris.  

“We were the first people who were called fashionistas in Việt Nam. But the truth is, we simply look at fashion as an art and our bodies as a canvas,” says Lê Hoàng Anh Khoa (also known as Kelbin Lei), one of the best-known fashion industry pros in HCM City.

“The sense of style we develop along the way is really the ‘masterpiece’," he says.

"We’re devoted to fashionable clothing, particularly unique or high fashion. But we don’t believe in trends. Real fashionistas never follow trends. We’re pioneers," he says.

In 2009, the 26-year-old began his career, working as a fashion editor and personal stylist for several fashion magazines, film studios and performers in the arts.

At fashion shows, he has collaborated with top designers such as Lý Quý Khánh and Adrian Anh Tuấn.

But his star rose after becoming one of HCM City’s most popular fashion bloggers, with 120,000 followers on Instagram.   

His shop in District 1 offers eye-catching clothes designed by himself as well as local and foreign designers.

His customers, mostly young people, receive advice on new trends and styles, including useful information about fabric, size and accessories.     

This year, Kelbin and 23 other artists from Asia were selected to participate in the global fashion campaign Gucci Tian launched by Gucci this year.

The Gucci Tian collection included accessories and handbags designed with floral monograms, at prices between US$280 and 1,850.

Kelbin also worked with Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele and his staff to create a backpack for $2,200, which was included in the Guccigram collection.

He has also created items with Gucci Việt Nam.   

 “I love clothes with a rock-chic style because of its edgy, glamourous feel,” he says. “Although the style burst onto the fashion scene in the 1970s, it still shows no sign of dying out. If you’re looking to try a new style that reflects your rebellious nature or music taste, choose rock-chic.”

In March, Kelbin returned home from Seoul Fashion Week, where his black-on-black styles appeared in the Best Street Style Pics in Vogue Korea magazine. 

“Fashion is limitless. I’ve learned many news things at fashion events in Seoul, Tokyo, Hà Nội and HCM City,” he says.

 “I don’t think style is just a designer suit or expensive jeans. Put your soul into clothes and listen to your voice before you decide what to wear.”

Today, as more Vietnamese people, both men and women, seek international clothing styles, there is increasing competition for talented designers and stylists.

To survive, they must find their own niche to attract fans and customers.

Hoàng Ku, whose real name is Nguyễn Mạnh Hoàng, is a personal stylist, fashion model and make-up artist in Hà Nội who likes playing with clothes.

“For me, fashion pros create new styles and take the lead in setting new trends," he says.

A graduate of the London College for Design & Fashion in Hà Nội, he has worked with leading fashion magazines and social media websites such as Đẹp (Beauty) and

Hoàng Ku has opened a shop offering unique clothes from a variety of brand names he has collected in HCM City.

His special talents extend to helping celebrities as well.

He has worked as a stylist for dozens of famous artists, including pop stars Hồ Ngọc Hà and Sơn Tùng M-TP, singers Noo Phước Thịch and Hoàng Thùy Linh and film actress Minh Hằng.

One of his special clients is young actress Angela Phương Trinh, who impressed audiences at the 69th Cannes Film Festival, wearing a dazzling traditional gown.

Hoàng Ku selected Trinh’s silk dress embroidered with folk art by artisans from Bắc Ninh Province’s Đông Hồ Village.

The dress was part of a 2016 Spring-Summer collection by designer Thủy Nguyễn.

“We worked several hours looking at clothes before making the final decision on Thủy’s design. Thanks to Hoàng Ku, I made a good impression at Cannes,” says Trinh, who was included in a photo fashion campaign launched in May by D&G.  

Speaking to local media recently, Hoàng Ku, 28, who has 28,000 followers on Instagram, says that his job was “to connect Vietnamese designers and their customers and show them how to wear fashion”.

His colleagues, including Nicky Khánh Ngọc and Travis Nguyễn, share the same ambition to play a role in the fashion industry’s development and expand at home and overseas.

Ngọc, fashion editor of ELLE Việt Nam magazine, often writes and uploads information on beauty tips, exercises and new trends to help her 30,000 followers on Instagram, particularly young women, enhance their beauty and health.

A fan of Ngọc writes on her Facebook page: “I didn’t know how to use my lipstick correctly until I followed Ngọc on Instagram. Honestly, she has changed my look from a girl to a woman.”  

Life-changing? No, but Ngọc believes that her influence extends beyond the superficial.

“Fashion is art,” she says “It can help you believe in yourself and change your life.” — VNS  























Fashionista: Fashion blogger, stylist and editor Kelbin Lei of HCM City and 24 other artists from Asia this year participated in Gucci Tian, a fashion campaign launched worldwide by Gucci. Photo courtesy of Kelbin Lei’s Facebook


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