In a bid to internationalize its lineup of designers, Tokyo Fashion Week invited Vietnam’s Nguyen Cong Tri to show his latest collection of made-to-order garments. Inspired by the garb of female rice farmers of his native country, Nguyen turned out some intriguing clothes crafted from a rare, highly prized silk with a sheen similar to leather and velvet.
The designer, who has been in business for 15 years in Vietnam and is looking to branch out to new markets like Japan, showed some stunning creations incorporating weaving, fringing, embroidery and appliqué. Some of the winners included an all-black ensemble of an embellished jacket worn with cropped pants and another look featuring a woven, multicolor top paired with pedal pushers. The dramatic fringed numbers included an embroidered minidress worn under a quilted silk jacket.
Tying directly into the agricultural inspiration, a white blouse and a minidress sported a crest derived from the flower of a rice plant. And there were riffs on cropped pants and Vietnam’s Ao ba ba, a long-sleeve, button-down silk tunic with a scooped neck that is traditionally worn with silk trousers.
The whole range of silk creations was very impressive. It was harder to get excited about the velvet items, which veered on frumpy.
The story behind the Lanh My A silk Nguyen used is fascinating. He does not speak English, but his spokeswoman said the silk is considered a national treasure in Vietnam, produced in only one village. Only the finest silk threads are selected and they need to be dyed 90 to 100 times to achieve the proper shine, thickness and durability. The dye comes from the Mac Nua fruit and the whole dyeing and drying process takes about four months to complete. In effect, it took Nguyen two years to amass enough fabric for his fall collection. The designer’s two-week trip to Japan will involve even more fabric research: He is heading to Kyoto to learn more about the textiles that are used to make kimonos, the spokeswoman said.
“We are interested in the [craftsmanship]…especially for the detail and the pattern,” she said.