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Rice fields and Rihanna: the Vietnamese couturier with a celeb clientele

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When billionaire singer Rihanna posed for an ad campaign by luxury shoemaker Manolo Blahnik, she also made a star out of the little-known Vietnamese designer who made the oversized white shirt she posed in.

For more than two decades, Nguyen Cong Tri has been crafting chic structured eveningwear made of Vietnamese-spun silk, organza or taffeta, but despite some success at home, his designs had gained less traction elsewhere.

But when Rihanna showcased his Em Hoa range, inspired by the flower sellers of Vietnam, one famous name after another — Beyonce, Naomi Campbell, Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry, and Rita Ora among them — began picking out his designs to wear to high profile events.

“I am so proud. Designs by a Vietnamese designer, all Vietnamese production, being chosen and worn by Hollywood stars,” he told AFP from his glamourous “Cong Tri” boutique in Ho Chi Minh City.

Some of his collections were dreamt up during flights over the rice fields of his homeland, another was influenced by the all-women militias of the American war in Vietnam.

With three stores in the country’s business capital, a judging role on the local version of reality TV show Project Runway, and growing international interest — he is a firm believer Vietnam has more to offer fashion beyond its role of factory workhorse.

Tri now has a staff of more than 150 people and is hopeful his success can guide a new generation of talent.

He said: “It won’t be too far in the future that Vietnam can stake its claim on the world fashion map.”

With three stores in the country's business capital, a judging role on the local version of reality show Project Runway, and growing international interest - Cong Tri is a firm believer Vietnam has more to offer fashion beyond factory workhorse. Photo: AFP
With three stores in the country’s business capital, a judging role on the local version of reality show Project Runway, and growing international interest – Cong Tri is a firm believer Vietnam has more to offer fashion beyond factory workhorse. Photo: AFP

Vietnam’s strong women

One of eight siblings, Tri was born in the central coastal city of Da Nang in 1978 — just three years after the war with the US ended.

He studied industrial arts and initially took a job sketching out CD covers for Vietnamese musicians.

But a fascination with the “resilience and strength” of Vietnam’s women soldiers, who he had heard stories about at school, propelled his slide into fashion and led to his first collection — “Green Leaves”, made using a patchwork cloth technique that took inspiration from the winter uniform and hard green hats of the fighters.

“When they were at home, they worked in the rice fields, taking care of their families,” he said of the soldiers. “When on the battlefields, they became the militias: they were such strong women.”

“In all of my collections… the characteristics that make a strong Vietnamese woman are always conveyed or hidden in my design, even in the material,” added Tri, dressed head to toe in white plus a pair of thick-rimmed black glasses.

Designer Nguyen Cong Tri has been crafting chic structured eveningwear made of Vietnamese-spun silk, organza or taffeta for two decades and his pieces have been worn by stars including Rihanna and Beyonce. Photo: AFP
Designer Nguyen Cong Tri has been crafting chic structured eveningwear made of Vietnamese-spun silk, organza or taffeta for two decades and his pieces have been worn by stars including Rihanna and Beyonce. Photo: AFP

At Tokyo Fashion Week in 2016, Tri showed off a collection made from Lanh My A silk, a highly durable material made in just one village in the Mekong Delta that requires huge skill and patience to produce.

The fabric needs to be dyed up to 100 times using the ebony-coloured mac nua fruit to achieve its leather-like appearance, and it took Tri two years to get together enough material.

Those designs were influenced by the Ao Ba Ba — a traditional outfit worn by rice farmers — and his determination to bring his homeland into his clothes has won him fans far beyond Vietnam.

His flower girl collection was spotted by Rihanna’s stylist at Tokyo Fashion Week — who promptly ordered three designs — and two years later, he became the first designer based in Vietnam with a show at New York Fashion Week.

While the nation's textile factories have hit the headlines this year over struggles to fulfill orders for global clothing giants such as Nike and Gap amid a brutal COVID-19 wave, young designers are ready to reclaim the Made in Vietnam label. Photo: Courtesy of Cong Tri/AFP
While the nation’s textile factories have hit the headlines this year over struggles to fulfill orders for global clothing giants such as Nike and Gap amid a brutal COVID-19 wave, young designers are ready to reclaim the Made in Vietnam label. Photo: Courtesy of Cong Tri/AFP

From factory to fashion week

However, he spent many years “trying and wishing” to get the attention of global stars in an industry where, according to a recent report by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, half of employees of colour believe a fashion career is not equally accessible to all.

While the nation’s textile factories have hit the headlines this year over struggles to fulfill orders for global clothing giants such as Nike and Gap amid a brutal COVID-19 wave, a clutch of young talented designers alongside Tri are ready to reclaim the Made in Vietnam label.

Tran Hung, also based in Ho Chi Minh City, has shown off his designs at London Fashion Week, while rising star Tran Phuong My made her New York Fashion Week debut in 2019.

“Making our names in the world fashion industry is the result of a long process of hard work,” said Tri, who previously joked that the secret to finding success abroad is to put in 18 hours a day at the office.

Some say the pandemic has given the industry a chance to shift, with virtual catwalks allowing designers from all corners of the world to shine, but Tri believes Asian designers need to keep fighting to make it to the top.

He explains: “We have to always think of some way, some path to go down step by step. It’s not just about waiting for society to take a chance on us.”

Some say the pandemic has given the industry a chance to shift, with virtual catwalks allowing designers from all corners of the world to shine, but Cong Tri believes Asian designers need to keep fighting to make it to the top. Photo: AFP
Some say the pandemic has given the industry a chance to shift, with virtual catwalks allowing designers from all corners of the world to shine, but Cong Tri believes Asian designers need to keep fighting to make it to the top. Photo: AFP

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/ttnewsstyle/20211222/rice-fields-and-rihanna-the-vietnamese-couturier-with-a-celeb-clientele/64852.html

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Ho Chi Minh City youth celebrate 25 years of Harry Potter in Vietnam

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A series of activities were held at Nguyen Van Binh Book Street in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday to mark the 25th year since the first Harry Potter book, a best-selling series by British author J.K. Rowling, was released in Vietnam.

The Tre (Youth) Publishing House, which owns the copyrights for the novel series in Vietnam, hosted numerous events including interactive games, trivia and drawing contests.

Making its debut 25 years ago, the novel quickly became a firm favorite among young Vietnamese readers.

Young people pose for a photo with accessories from Harry Potter books, a best-selling series by British author J.K. Rowling, at Nguyen Van Binh Book Street in Ho Chi Minh City, September 25, 2022. Photo: T.T.D. / Tuoi Tre
Young people pose for a photo with accessories from Harry Potter books, a best-selling series by British author J.K. Rowling, at Nguyen Van Binh Book Street in Ho Chi Minh City, September 25, 2022. Photo: T.T.D. / Tuoi Tre
Young fans attend a quiz during a series of activities held at Nguyen Van Binh Book Street in Ho Chi Minh City to mark the 25th year since the first Harry Potter book, a best-selling series by British author J.K. Rowling, was released in Vietnam, September 25, 2022. Photo: T.T.D. / Tuoi Tre
Young fans attend a quiz during a series of activities held at Nguyen Van Binh Book Street in Ho Chi Minh City to mark the 25th year since the first Harry Potter book, a best-selling series by British author J.K. Rowling, was released in Vietnam, September 25, 2022. Photo: T.T.D. / Tuoi Tre

Many Harry Potter lovers expressed their joy during the celebration on Sunday.

“To me, Harry Potter is not just a novel, it’s another world that anyone can be immersed in,” said Le Hoang Phuong Vy, a girl from District 7 who claimed to have read the series since she was still in elementary school.

During the celebration, the Tre Publishing House also introduced the illustrated Vietnamese edition of the ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ – the fifth novel in the world-famous series.

The illustrated Vietnamese edition of the ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,’ the fifth novel in the world-famous series, is introduced at Nguyen Van Binh Book Street in Ho Chi Minh City, September 25, 2022. Photo: T.T.D. / Tuoi Tre
The illustrated Vietnamese edition of the ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,’ the fifth novel in the world-famous series, is introduced at Nguyen Van Binh Book Street in Ho Chi Minh City, September 25, 2022. Photo: T.T.D. / Tuoi Tre
Young fans cosplaying as characters in Harry Potter books, a best-selling series by British author J.K. Rowling, pose for a photo at Nguyen Van Binh Book Street in Ho Chi Minh City, September 25, 2022. Photo: T.T.D. / Tuoi Tre
Young fans cosplaying as characters in Harry Potter books, a best-selling series by British author J.K. Rowling, pose for a photo at Nguyen Van Binh Book Street in Ho Chi Minh City, September 25, 2022. Photo: T.T.D. / Tuoi Tre

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Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/ttnewsstyle/20220926/ho-chi-minh-city-youth-celebrate-25-years-of-harry-potter-in-vietnam/69262.html

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Domestic destinations remain popular following peak summer season in Vietnam

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The domestic tourism market in Vietnam remains bustling following the peak summer season with autumn-winter tours to popular mountainous destinations in the northwest and northeast regions.

As many autumn-winter tours to foreign countries are not yet favorable following the COVID-19 pandemic, travelers in Vietnam have decided to visit the country’s northwest and northeast provinces to admire the beauty of nature.

Some of the popular choices include Mu Cang Chai District in Yen Bai Province, home to magnificent terraced rice fields, and Moc Chau District in Son La Province, famous for the beautiful buckwheat blossom.

The number of bookings for tours to mountainous localities in northern Vietnam has been increasing, according to local travel agents.

A representative of Vietravel said that more than 6,500 visitors have booked the company’s tours to such destinations.

At Saigontourist has also sold their tours to about 6,000 customers, meeting 60 percent of its target for this travel season.

To meet this demand, travel companies have focused on tailoring new products for the autumn-winter season, which include high-quality services and new experiences for visitors.

According to a representative of TST tourist, the firm’s clients often seek tours to South Korea, Japan, or the United States during this time of the year.

As overseas travel is not yet convenient in the current context, domestic tourism continues to be the choice of local travelers.

To seize this opportunity, travel agencies across the country should form close cooperation to introduce their services to a wider range of tourists, said Lai Minh Duy, general director of TST tourist.

Pham Ngoc Thuy, director of the Department of Tourism in northern Quang Ninh Province, stated that the province is focusing on preparing for the autumn-winter tourism after the peak summer season.

In addition to popular destinations such as Yen Tu and Ha Long Bay, the locality is promoting new places like Dong Trieu, known as the original homeland of the Tran Dynasty, Binh Lieu, Mong Cai, and Uong Bi, Thuy elaborated.

The autumn-winter travel season often runs from September to October.

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Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/ttnewsstyle/20220919/domestic-destinations-remain-popular-following-peak-summer-season-in-vietnam/69134.html

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150-year-old French consulate edifice in Ho Chi Minh City opens to public on European Heritage Days

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The Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday again opened its door to visitors for one day as part of the European Heritage Days.

The 150-year-old building welcomed visitors who were required to register in advance and divided into small groups for 30-minute tours from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm within the day.

The tours took visitors to the special architectural spaces inside the Consulate General, the artworks and furniture of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802–1945) displayed at the venue, and a 1.5-hectare park home to ages-old trees.

The visitors also had the chance to try specialties from France. 

A visitor takes a picture of an eight-piece folding screen displayed on the wall of the large living room of the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City on September 17, 2022. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

A visitor takes a picture of an eight-piece folding screen displayed on the wall of the large living room at the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City on September 17, 2022. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

According to French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Emmanuelle Pavillon-Grosser, the European Heritage Days was initiated by the French Ministry of Culture in 1984 and has been celebrated around the world thanks to its success.

The annual event offers opportunities to visit buildings, monuments, and sites, many of which are not normally accessible to the public.

French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Emmanuelle Pavillon-Grosser (second from left) introduces the statue of Marianne, the symbol of France, displayed at the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City on September 17, 2022. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Emmanuelle Pavillon-Grosser (L, 2nd) introduces the statue of Marianne, the symbol of France, displayed at the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City on September 17, 2022. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Emmanuelle Pavillon-Grosser sits at the French-styled banquet table in the large dining room at the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City on September 17, 2022. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Emmanuelle Pavillon-Grosser sits at the French-style banquet table in the large dining room at the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City on September 17, 2022. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

Visiting the French consulate for the first time on Saturday, art researcher Ngo Kim Khoi said having the building open to visitors is a good way to educate about heritage and culture, as it is not easy for the public to have the opportunity to set foot in the 150-year-old edifice.

Art researcher Ngo Kim Khoi admires an artwork by renowned Vietnamese artist Nguyen Gia Tri during his visit to the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City on September 17, 2022. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

Art researcher Ngo Kim Khoi admires an artwork by renowned Vietnamese artist Nguyen Gia Tri during his visit to the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City on September 17, 2022. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

In 2008, the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City welcomed more than 1,300 visitors on the occasion and a bigger number the next year. 

Visitors take pictures at the corridor while visiting the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City on September 17, 2022. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

Visitors take pictures at the corridor while visiting the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City on September 17, 2022. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

The small living room with original cement floor tiles from 1872 in the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

The small living room with original cement floor tiles from 1872 at the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

A green space inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

A green space inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

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Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/ttnewsstyle/20220918/150yearold-french-consulate-edifice-in-ho-chi-minh-city-opens-to-public-on-european-heritage-days/69131.html

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