Fashion Week Q&A with Nhi Nguyen

By: Rachel Handel Filed under: Fashion

January 28, 2016

Nhi Nguyen believes that she was destined to become a fashion designer. Growing up in Vietnam, Nhi watched her mother, a seamstress, turn patterns into beautiful dresses.

“I was so fascinated. This passion fueled my childhood aspiration to become a fashion designer. At the age of 17, [I left] my family and friends and came to America to fulfill my dream,” she says.

Nhi ads that her designs merge sophistication and youthful, feminine, modern sensibility. She’s inspired by fine art, haute couture, and Asian culture. Nhi graduated in Spring of 2015 from The Art Institute of Houston, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design.

“I love challenging myself by entering competitions. After winning third place in the Fashion My Future Competition in Houston, I [understood] that fashion is not only about the talent. Fashion is about hard work. It is about moving forward [and pushing forward with a dream].”

Describe your collection for New York Fashion Week.

My collection is street-style couture inspired by architecture and geometric elements and forms. [This represents] the strong and independent woman of the next generation.

How did you work through the creative process?

Since I love both street fashion and haute couture, I wanted to combine them together in my collection. I did a lot of research on fashion trends and trends in designing. Architecture has always been a big influence in design. So I started putting geometric shapes and architecture elements onto my sketches.

The next step was to find the right fabrics, which I consider [to be] the hardest part in my whole process. I wanted to find a completely new material that could bring out my ideas, however I could not find anything in Houston. I decided to go to Los Angeles to find my fabric. After many days searching the whole fashion district and Mood Fabric store, I finally found the metallic square—mesh fabric with very luxurious shine.

By layering the mesh with metallic lame, I [created] an unique fabric. It is the hardest, yet the most exciting part in the process of making this collection.

How did your Fashion Design education help you with this process?

I have been [creating] fashion sketches ever since I was in the middle school. There are so many ideas and styles that I can put onto paper. [However], I did not know how to turn them into real garments. My Fundamental Patternmaking class really helped me understand how to look at the sketch and figure out pieces that shape the garments. [It taught me the process] from paper to pieces of fabric, then [sewing it] together into a garment.

Draping class also helped me to see how the garment looks on the dressform before sewn. It gave me more room for creativity.

How are you preparing for the upcoming runway show?

I work full time at a bridal company. Since I live very far from workplace, driving already takes me [over] two hours per day. Then I go home and work on the [Fashion Week] project.

I had to learn to manage my time and plan every step from making patterns to cutting and sewing. Plus, every garment has its own problems. I ran out of fabric. My sewing machine broke. Sometimes the pattern was wrong so I had to make a garment twice. However, I always tried to be positive. ”Everything happens for a reason.” That was what I told myself in order to turn a challenge into an experience that I could learn and grow from.

What advice would you give to current fashion students?

I tell myself to “never stop sewing.” Without making new garments and being creative constantly, I don’t think that I would have this chance to show my collection in this big fashion event. Fashion is all about hard work. Hard work pays off well.

Which designers, blogs, or publications inspire you?

[I’m inspired by] Chanel, Alexander Wang, Valentino, Raf Simon. Vogue, and WWD.

Watch the live broadcast here!

Check out the other designers participating in Fashion Week

View Nhi’s sketches and inspiration board by clicking on the thumbnails


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