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In the bag of: Quy Nguyen (ELLE Vietnam)

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Meeting Quy and a bunch of other encounters in Vietnam made us want to launch this crazy project: meet all the Creatives in Vietnam under 30 and report about the Trend.

Nguyen Danh Quy is one of this rare breed nowadays in Ho Chi Minh City. Well-cultured, well-traveled, professionally ambitious and demanding, yet incredibly cool and humble. After a few years studying in Germany, he was offered a position as Deputy Managing Editor at Elle Vietnam. In a blossoming economy – still partly hit by the worldwide recession, Quy is a learner. Passionate and dedicated to researching, understanding the fashion industry, he also aspires to transmit these pioneering know-how and knowledge to students finding Fashion Marketing Bachelors barely starting to exist since 2012.

Our talks have led to a common lecture at local elite university RMIT for a class of Fashion Market, and more to come. Here are the man’s answers to a couple of questions.

-          When did you decide fashion was your way?

3 years ago when I was staying in Germany, I got an offer to be Deputy Managing Editor of Elle Vietnam magazine. My passion for fashion and luxury industry has grown very much since then, as well as my knowledge of fashion industry. There’re still so many things to learn about the industry, all the creative people, super talented designers etc. and all that keeps me staying in fashion.

-          Which brand impressed you the most and triggered your passion?

I always have the tendency for brands with minimal aesthetics and casual chic such as Jil Sander, COS, Bottega Veneta, Hermès. However, since the last three years, I have been totally in love with everything Phoebe Philo created for Céline. I think I’ve found what I truly love and the beauty I believe in. She has reinvented Cool and all of her designs, including accessories, represent what I envision cool and beautiful are.

-          How do you see the future of fashion design in Vietnam?

I see the determination and great efforts of everyone (from fashion magazine people to designers, creative directors, buyers, retailers) to make local fashion industry be more professional, more active – in general, for better. I also think fashion design in Vietnam has a bright future, if it can be more international and follow certain rules of the industry as other professional fashion industries in the world.

-          What do you bring from your experiences abroad?

Fairness, Professionalism, Open-mindedness – I try to bring different perspectives of aesthetics (Western view vs. Asian view) into my work. Additionally, when I view photographic work, I also try not to forget to look for emotions, something new that those images can evoke.

-          What would you share from Vietnam to the world of fashion to improve it?

​Our readers are very flexible and open to new ideas, ​new ways of seeing, feeling and portraying beauty. They can love a local celebrity and/or a model as much as an international ones. I think, they are all very eager to learn and experience more from the fashion world. Therefore, I hope there’d be more and more luxury brands coming to Vietnam in the time to come.
Now let’s have a peek into Quy’s quite fashionable bag. 
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Are Apple’s iPhone 6 and Watch items of Fashion?

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Apple did not ninja-launch their seasonal batch of new products for sure. A few hours before the Keynote introducing yet another iPhone and a Watch seemingly tailored to tackle Samsung’s leading innovations, there was a wind of disbelief in the Fashion Press where editors, influencers and followers alike felt they would feel the full blow of Apple Marketing Superpower.

Geek is now infamously chic, but why such a sudden direct poke (copyright?) at the trendiest industry?

BoF did not take this lightly either. The respectable source about The Industry took the opportunity to present their new hub for Fashion-dash-Tech:

 


Elsewhere, behemoths like Refinery29 are dropping their unusual Top Story about the iPhone 6 and the Watch, while invitations were dropped to regional top editors (Vogue China, Italia…) to have them join San Francisco’s event venue…

Capitalizing on the obvious trend making tech objects the new Talismans of our contemporary citizens, the brand seems to make a wise business move involving fashion partners more closely, but we’re still wondering: are these new products really worth the spotlight?

Here is Suzy Menkes’ review (seriously?)

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Saigon Block Party – Hip Youth Video

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Trendwatchers from the world have their eyes laid on Tokyo, Berlin, Brooklyn, NoMa (Paris), but emerging scenes of youth culture like Vietnam are now über-exciting, shall we say.

Just watch this video made in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to take a peek into a generation craving for ideas, aesthetics, style and contemporary values. In their own way, somehow.

B-R-A-V-O to Bluer Production.
Behold The Day Dreamers.
 

The Day Dreamers from BLUER VIETNAM on Vimeo.

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Why London is the Capital of Menswear

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These past few years have seen the rise to glory of a long-underestimated and underserved market: Menswear. With a boost given by the street culture generation now on the chase for looks and design, it’s never been more exciting to be a man in fashion.

But there is a tip to the spear and it is called London (UK).

While the British Fashion Council once again sets up a platform for creativity and business called London Collections: Men – bringing together names including Jonathan Saunders, Christopher Kane, Alexander McQueen, JW Anderson, Katie Eary, Tom Ford, Moschino, YMC, Topman and Lyle & Scott; one can not be surprised when this is the proud land of Paul Smith and the mean streets of modern Tailoring.

Furthermore, who could doubt menswear would find its energy on a market where online concept-stores such as Oki-Ni, LN-CC or Endclothing have thrived in the past few years.

London like no other place is encompassing everything that inspires the modern man: a desire for excentricity mixed with extremely codified formality. The geek generation finds its closet ready for a revolution – fashion can be optimized for efficiency with creativity. Rest of the world, behold. The times of Daddy’s preppy or douchey style is over.

Christopher Kane SS15
Christopher Kane SS15
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Mercedes-Benz Fashion Film Spring/Summer 2015

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Mercedes-Benz teamed up with designer Haider Ackermann and directors Roe Ethridge and Andre Chemetoff to create an intriguing and fascinating fashion film starring Tilda Swinton and the Classe S Coupé. The film shows a cunning ensemble of character, wilderness and mystery. Fashion and automobile at their most special standard.

 

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Pharrell on Elle UK. Why the controversy?

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Do you think Pharrell should not have worn a Native American head-dress on cover of Elle UK? We don’t.

Although this sparked understandable and respectable outrage from communities and commentators alike, resulting in a sincere apology by the cultural icon, we believe this new controversy shows society has figured fashion out all wrong.

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As a matter of fact, the base of controversy seems far-fetched to us, or at least most of commentators express it with little concision: most of the tweets bear judgments such as “it’s not ok”, ‘what’s wrong with you” and “this is scandalous”, only a few mention the reasons of anger:

“Urgh. Why does the fashion industry insist on turning sacred cultural items into fashion props? #NOTHappy @ELLEUK” – says @OnceAPARNATime.

Cultural appropriation seems to be the problem, as highlighted Refinery29. But the real question is where is the line to draw for offensiveness?

We believe blackfaceing a model is a mistake, but criticizing a graphic and photographic fashion job made with respect (at least benefit of that doubt can be given to the team in charge, right?) seems way over-crying. Why did fashion teams like this one chose this item? Because it bears positive symbols, it also has impeccable visual style and it may remind us that some cultures should not be lost in contemporary moments.

This cover is beautiful. It has character. It does not depict a community in any negative way. Let’s stop underestimating the fashion industry’s capacity to curate cultures. Fashion is not a superficial discipline, whatever twitter might say.

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San Art Gallery – Saigon Contemporary Art

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Sàn in vietnamese means ground. Sàn Art Gallery is a unique space in Ho Chi Minh City that has provided a platform for art and creation for 6 years. Yesterday was the opening for a group exhibition called Mind, Flesh, Matter.

We have been impressed by the rich atmosphere offered by the space – formerly a reading space / library, but also with the diversity of works and the precision of curation by director of gallery Zoe Butt.

Mind, Flesh, Matter is the work of 3 vietnamese artists: Lai Dieu Ha, Le Phi Long and Nguyen Van Du and was part of a process called Sàn Art Laboratory. The residency program allowed the artists to exchange and find talking partners to further their research, resulting in quite an achieving set up.

Materials and ideas seemed to collide in a very subtle way. Installations were meant to provide depth to paintings and drawings, echoing how Mind, Flesh and Matter coincide. In a reserved way, we could think performance art would have in some way contributed to deepen the experience.

In our very specific way, we have ended up stumbling into hints of pop culture here and there, most probably unintentional or better totally unrelated.

Organic side cuts reminded us of recent imagery from Hannibal (TV version with Mads Mikkelsen), when the man in the wood somehow reproduced the post-apocalyptic post-human postulate of Danny Boyle heroes Di Caprio in The Beach or Cillian Murphy in 28 Days Later. There was also this distant memory of Six Feet Under’s legendary tree…

Art and design are making their way into the hectic life of the fast-growing metropolis. We Boulevardiers could not love it more.

 

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2 days in Ho Chi Minh City

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Vietnam is scoring higher and higher points in coolness these days while things heat up at its borders. While China and Vietnam go head to head on territorial claims in the South China Sea, the country took the scene in 2 world-leading media to show its fascinating new lifestyles.

First on May 7 – Louis Vuitton released its refined Travel Book – Vietnam, subtly edited and drawn by Lorenzo Mattotti. The introduction video makes the exploit of showing all the famous traits of Vietnam without an ounce of cliché-ness. Residing in the country for a little less than a year now, I can certainly appreciate even more that a fresh eye such as Mr Mattotti’s has brushed up the overloaded motorbikes, the tacky alleys, the incredible sights of Ha Long Bay in a poetic way. As he says, all these symbols can be looked at in a quite abstract way. Shapes are key to his vision.

See the video:

 

 

Then on May 8 – the New York Times took its famous 36 Hours In… series to Ho Chi Minh City. The well-documented article does walk through the hottest places of modern Saigon. I’d certainly +1 on designer Linda Mai Phung’s works (see our french column last summer in L’Express Styles), vouch for the artistic new wave led by Gallery Quynh, San Art and L’Observatory, and yum in on Cuc Gach Quan’s foodie delight.

But I could not help bring up the happy few spots and people overlooked by the article. So here’s an additional 48h you can add to your stay in Ho Chi Minh City with its extra recommendable experiences. Welcome to the exciting contemporary Saigon: authentic and futuristic, mostly at the same time.

The Street Treat – Unconspicuous Pho joints where you get to taste the unavoidable national dish include Pho Thai Son on Le Lai street, a short park-walk away from the backpacker area. Next comes Tan Dinh Market, a place to find an immense choice of weird to cool fabrics – the street food court there is highly cool too. By night time, join in a street quan nhau (literally binge eat-drinking joint) on Ham Nghi street to enjoy watered-down beers and grilled seafood.

The Liquor Tour – Saigon offers a still confidential taste of quality drinks. The best Negroni can be found at the Purple Jade, while great wines are curated by a team of passionates at Wine Embassy. Last but not least, drinks are usually more enjoyable with a cool musical scene. Venues such as Cargo Bar (Q4) – a huge warehouse turned into concert spot hosting international gigs of rock and electronic music (Onra, Poni Hoax among others in 2013) – or the hip and kinky Broma, and the experimental street-culture spot called Saigon Outcast (where contributors organized a Flaming Lips experience gig last winter) are all worth the visit.

The Shopping Spree – As we all love to explore local options, the fascinating thing about Saigon is how it opened to the most avantgarde cultural scenes lately and allowed subsequent shopping options. The most curious of them all would be Runway Concept Store, located in an otherwise uncharming Vincom mall. International contemporary designers like Helmut Lang, Phillip Lim, Alexander Wang or Acne Studios have found their place there for a cultured generation of vietnamese and expats, among luxury brands including Saint Laurent Paris, Givenchy or Maison Martin Margiela. VIPs looking for a more glamorous outfit could also turn to a more fancy cocktail dress at Luala, another local concept store offering Victoria Beckham, Azzedine Alaia and Elie Saab.

 

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When did Miley become more real than a Fashion Blogger?

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For the sake of our ecosystem we had to cry this out. Our darlings and colleagues from the fashion blogosphere have gone too far. We’re not talking about these buffoons roaming the sidewalks during Fashion Week, but really about those delicate creatures that made boys and girls just like us dream of an eternally and integrally beautiful street, populated with muses and characters.

But then Kristina Bazan just released her new version of KAYTURE. As the pinnacle of her later trajectory, it showcases the most surreal shots of a young talented blogger ever. We’re feeling the brands and all these “amazing projects” they’ve submitted to her have alienated the idea of what we used to love about K: a sophisticated spontaneity. She embodied how cool yet charming and level-headed one person could be when it came to fashion perception.

Kayture Collaboration with Louis Vuitton

Now she looks more plastic than any over-the-top luxury campaign. Fake glows and shopped auras have covered the homepage. Thank you Louis V.

And then we watched Miley Cyrus’ music videos again. And somehow it felt more real. Proof that posterizing an icon is a delicate art that even the greatest brands on Earth still have to master.

 

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