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Do Manh Cuong is one of Vietnam’s leading fashion designers, recognized for his cosmopolitan-chic, statement collections. After graduating from Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisenne, Do Manh Cuong kicked off his professional designer career by working for two brand name designer powerhouses in France, Christian Dior and Dominique Sirop. Since his entrance into the Vietnam fashion scene, Do Manh Cuong has maintained his seat as a top-tier fashion designer. His recent collection has earned him both compliments and criticisms, but with his unfaltering attitude, Do Manh Cuong assures that there’s more to come. Read our exclusive interview with Do Manh Cuong on his latest collection.
Why did you choose Countryside as the theme for your recent summer show? Where did you get this idea from?
Up until now, all my shows have portrayed an underlying imprint of myself as a person – minimalism. Through Countryside I depicted feelings of freedom, liberated by the beauty of the peaceful countryside through the eyes of a French exchange student.
With many spectators, the biggest feature of this show was the catwalk, designed as a country road with mounds of straw. How long did it take to prepare this? Was that the biggest emphasis/ highlight of the show this time round?
Until now, all the shows I arrange match the standards within the fashion world, with details only seen in fashion capitals like Paris. Not only do I invest time in the collection, I also create class performance stages that fuse with and help express the concept of the collection.
The expenses invested into the performance setup is not a small amount, but I still maintained it throughout the years because it serves as a stepping stone to bringing the name of a Vietnamese designer to the forefront of the world’s leading brands.
The runway stage for Countryside took relatively long. To get to the final stage that the audience saw and admired, it took 6 months from conception to execution, and many headaches. It was challenging to bring straw into a large conference center located at the heart of Ho Chi Minh City particularly because it was so flammable. However, with a crew of professional work and experience, everything was safe to the smallest detail.
Creating art is not easy, but every time you hold a fashion show, you produce more designs that feature greater catwalks. What are you trying to convey through each of your performances?
Even with a conventional design house, releasing a collection of about 25 to 30 designs is sometimes challenging. But in my shows, you will notice that the numbers soar every year. With my most recent show, Countryside, I introduced 185 new designs. With what I’ve obtained up until now, I want the audience to know that in order to achieve something that has never existed before, you must do things that others are afraid to do.
What is your notion of fashion? What is the interaction between the role of the fashion designer and life?
My notion is simple: fashion is essentially life. Fashion cannot be separated from life because clothing was invented with the purpose of comfort for humans to use in their daily life. With that being said, the role of the fashion designer is vital and irreplaceable, since they are the ones who beautify humans with their creativity and innovation.
What is your opinion of the Vietnamese fashion industry in the recent years? Did we manage to keep up with the international brands?
The thought that it is possible for Vietnam to keep up with fashion capitals such as Paris, Milan, and New York has never once crossed my mind. That is a delusion of unrealistic people. But realistically speaking, we have improved over the years, an improvement only when compared to ourselves in the previous years, and even that to me is something to celebrate.