With four looks, Xuan-Thu Nguyen offered a close-up view on the geometric construction as well as the organic nature that also flows through her clothing, setting them against a black backdrop, where they spun around, some expanding and contracting, the model’s head barely discernible.
She toggled between all-white looks — to emphasize construction — and bursts of colors.
One of the most elaborate pieces was a dress made entirely of cotton.
“For me, cotton is a very pure, basic material. It’s like a white canvas, a white page you can write anything on it and start over,” she said, lifting the dress off of a rack in her Paris workshop.
It was layered with vertical panels that resembled pages in a book, that she flipped through, stacking them against one another — first to the left, then to the right.
Also all white, a long jacket — worn belted, as a dress in the film — with rounded shoulders, made with thousands of feet of ribbon.
“It’s more about the lines, pure lines, but it molds and folds with you and gets its own life,” she noted.
Segueing to more organic pieces, she moved to a body-hugging black dress with tightly layered ribbons — piles of leather flowers spilled off the side of one arm — a messy mix of copper, blue, fluorescent yellow. In the film, they are added and subtracted, bringing volume or reining it in.
Another was made of mounds of ruffles — not the frilly kind — again, added to and taken away, building and shrinking the dress.
“Life is about birth and growing and dying, you see it in the video, the way we build up that look — how we wanted to show it, visually, and the other one is about inner growth, how things are growing and actually disappearing again,” she said.
“I started with colors — I always start with colors — and I think ‘this is going to be so ugly!’ and then I continue. You try to make it work, that’s what I like, to put stuff together and you don’t really know if it will work but you have to make it work. Like with everything in life, it could work, everything can work if you just make the effort,” she said.
It did work, this handsome contrast of color and purity; imposed structure and the seeming randomness of flower shapes and ruffles of fabrics.