With an acute ability to effortlessly blend cultures, it’s no surprise Vietnam-born, Germany-based designer Thuy Duong Nguyen’s fantastic brand, Thu Thu, is clocking up space in international glossies and the wardrobes of the fashion elite.
Incorporating stunning Vietnamese embroideries, hand-crafted by women of the Hmong ethnic group from Sapa, a mountainous region in North Vietnam, into western silhouettes; Thu Thu brings an artisanal touch to a contemporary wardrobe.
My Fashion Life caught up with the hotly-talked-about designer to discuss wardrobe staples, dream celebrities and the comfort vs. fashion dichotomy.
What was the inspiration behind your spring/summer 2012 collection?
A candy jar of colourful sweets.
If you hadn’t become a fashion designer, what would you be?
I always wanted to be a singer until I went to Germany’s biggest TV casting show when I was 16 years old. (Wow, that’s actually something that I’ve kept secret for years!). I obviously didn’t get through, so that took all my teenage hope of becoming a famous pop star! But if I think about it now, I guess I would have probably done something botanic or food related because I love exploring plants and trees. I also love good food, so maybe running a restaurant would have been a great alternative to fashion, but that might even be an option for the future.
What are your wardrobe staples?
I have two pairs of jeans that I always wear, a couple of loose cut t-shirts and some fancy embroidered vintage cardigans. The rest of my wardrobe is mostly filled with THU THU pieces.
Who is your favourite designer and why?
I don’t have a specific one, but I do like Chloé, Isabel Marant and Dries van Noten a lot. All three are very contemporary, but sophisticated and classic.
Heels or flats? Why?
Definitely heels as I’m just 5ft! But I do love wearing trainers as well.
Which summer beauty trends are you coveting?
Glitter nail polish in all colours – I’ have a draw full of them!
Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
My dad always teaches me life lessons; even now I’m in my mid twenties! He always says that there are things that other people can’t do, or have the belief in them to try; that’s why I should. It’s actually a motivation that pushes me to achieve things in life and try to succeed. My life motto in general is “Live and Learn”, that’s what I based THU THU on. I didn’t have much experience at all, but if you have the guts to begin something you’ll learn along the way.
Is it more important to be comfortable or fashionable?
You’ve got to feel comfortable before you can become fashionable with your look. The newest trends aren’t always the most complimentary, so it’s important to be you, too.
Which is your favourite piece from the Thu Thu SS’12 collection?
It’s really hard to say as I focused on eye catching pieces while designing, but if I had to choose one piece it would be the Sapa Suede Biker Jacket – a great alternative to an ordinary leather jacket.
Dream celebrities you’d like to dress?
Florence Welch, Alexa Chung and M.I.A. All three are strong, characteristic women with their own unique style.