Fashion designer Cong Tri: “Trips are an endless source of inspiration for me to sublimate into designing”

[Wanderlust Tips April 2018] The name Nguyen Cong Tri is no longer an unfamiliar name in Vietnam’s fashion industry; his unique and impressive designs completely conquer both Vietnamese and international fashion aficionados. The ideas for the collections often come from simple things he observes in his life or during his trips to a new land. Wanderlust tips had an interview with Cong Tri to learn more about his exhilarating creative inspirations.

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After about 18 years in your career as a fashion designer, the name Cong Tri is now referred to as a leading designer in Vietnam. What inspired you to pursue this career?

Born and raised in Da Nang, my childhood was filled with a lot of sound and colours. In front of my house there was a market, and behind my house was the Han river, so every day I could see ordinary yet very brilliant things. And those vivid images have formed in my imagination the concept of Arts. Arts nourished my soul during my childhood years.

I learned to draw in grade 1 and then began to design in grade 4. At the age of 9, I went to the market to choose cloth and brought home for my sister to make clothes for Tet holiday. My passion for arts grew along the time, and when I was 16 years old, I knew that I was really in love with fashion as I always learned about fashion designers in the country through books and newspapers. However, when I entered college, I had to choose graphics major while continuing to nurture the dream of becoming a fashion designer.

The year 2000 was an important milestone for me when I participated in the Vietnam Collection competition and won the Idea Award, and then won Bay FM award of Asia Collection Makuhari in Japan. In 2001, I won the second prize in the Asia Young Designer Award in Singapore. Those were the milestones for the beginning of my fashion design career.

You are highly appreciated and became famous for impressive designs for well-known stars in Vietnam and around the world, and especially through your latest striking collections like “Lua” (rice plant), “ Em Hoa” (Ms Flower), and “Thu sau cua Chi” (Friday of Female office staff). The collection “Lua” used the finest fabric of Vietnam – Lanh My A’s silk, the collection “Em Hoa” is inspired from the costumes of girls selling flowers in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Your collections all bear meaning and images which are very familiar in everyday life.

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Exactly. Those ordinary things may be in Vietnam or somewhere far away that I have got to know and learned about. I will pursue with all my energy those that touch me and make me fall in love.As my most recent BST was “Friday of Female office staff”. This is the collection of Cong Tri brand – one of the three brands operating under my name. Cong Tri brand specializes in designing elegant outfits for successful ladies and women. This is the collection inspired by the outfits women often wear in their office on Friday. I am interested in the change, the transformation, and the freedom in the dress sense of women on Fridays compared to the other days of the week.

In your busy life and work, do you spend time travelling to many places in Vietnam and in the world for relaxation, business or both?

Life becomes more colorful when I travel. However, due to my hectic schedule, I always try to combine work and travel. All the places I have been to have brought me the experiences of different cultures,and they are also an endless source of inspiration for me to sublimate in my designs.

Which trip brought you the most emotional memories?

The first thing I want to do when travelling to a new destination is to explore the local cultural life. I often visit local markets to experience the daily life there. The hustle and bustle of the sounds and colours always excites me and arouses many emotions in my imagination. In addition, the centres of the world’s fashion industry and garment materials are also indispensable destinations on my list.

I still remembered my first trip abroad to Japan; the conscientiousness and perfectionism of the Japanese traditional culture have completely impressed me. The next trip to the United States showed me the diversity and vastness of this country. Each state is like a small country, which would take me a lot of time to explore and learn about. I usually like places which look very simple from the outside but hide a lot of mysteries inside. Such places gave me the most emotions: loneliness, happiness, disappointment, surprise, and warmth.

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Fashion and travel seem to be a perfect couple; they complement each other and have similarities between each other. In the eyes of a fashion designer, how do you feel about this?

I think fashion is the travel of outfits, so when you change your style, it is like you are setting foot in a new land. Your life will be more interesting and enriched.

Can you share with Wanderlust Tips readers about your major plans in the near future?

In this year, I will release a new collection of Modern Ao Dai at the Vietnam Fashion Week in April, followed by a showcase of Vietnamese Modern Ao Dai in New York at the beginning of July. In September, I will attend Tokyo Fashion Week. And by the end of the year, there may be a solo exhibition which I have been planning for a long time.

Thank you for sharing with us these meaningful stories. We wish you creative inspiration and success in the future!

Van Ly | Wanderlust Tips

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