Vietnamese-born, Paris-based designer Xuan-Thu Nguyen is known for her thoughtful aesthetic and meticulous details, and she spared some time for Q&A with Fafafoom. Take a peek on her inspiring background, the X-TN aesthetics, and future plans for the brand.
While there are times and places for “more is more” design aesthetics, I found myself appreciating the more simple, minimalist designs with solid execution. The designs are quieter, but a full appreciation blooms once I take in all the details. Parisian designer Xuan-Thu Nguyen is someone who exercises such aesthetics.
Now launching her Spring 2015 line, her garments are living proof of her mastery of details, even those invisibly small to the casual observer. They display a wonderful balance of simplicity and sophistication, with a tint of nostalgia. Better yet, they are versatile and will work effortlessly with other garments a woman has already owned.
Xuan-Thu Nguye is no doubt inspiring; she is a Vietnamese-born, Dutch immigrant living in Paris to pursue a fashion career. She opened her own boutique in Paris in 2005 and started showing her collections at Paris Fashion Week in July 2008. Over the past five years, her brand X-TN has expanded from a single boutique to worldwide distribution, with all the garments made in either Paris or Holland.
So it’s only natural that I reached out to her team for a Q&A via email. I really appreciate Ms. Nguyen taking the time to answer my questions, in the midst of exciting fashion week events that are happening all around the world right now. Read them below, along with images from X-TN Spring 2015 collection!
Photos courtesy of Xuan-Thu Nguyen via MYN Collective.
Fafafoom: Please tell us a little bit about your background and how you got started in fashion. What made you decide to start a fashion label that’s based in Paris?
Xuan-Thu Nguyen: I started in 2001 with the simple concept of taking old elements, thoughts and ideas and creating something new entirely. I base my collection on my life as an immigrant, woman, and designer; mixing my Dutch background with the life I’ve created here in Paris.
Fafafoom: Can you share a little bit about your life story?
Xuan-Thu Nguyen: That would be a very long story! I have had many different cultural experiences that have created the fashion career I’ve always wanted. I don’t necessarily think of it as a way to inspire people, but if it does inspire even one person that means more to me than anything else.
Fafafoom: Your designs are gorgeous and the details you put into your creations blur the line between haute couture and ready-to-wear. Do you associate Xuan-Thu Nguyen brand with one side over the other?
Xuan-Thu Nguyen: I don’t necessarily associate the brand into one of two categories, rather I feel that the brand could not exist the way it does if I thought of one without the other.
Fafafoom: Who are your style inspirations?
Xuan-Thu Nguyen: It’s more of “what” rather than “who”; there are too many people I grew up admiring but I like to think what inspires me to create the collections are experiences and memories than a person I admire. Style is unique to each individual and the thought of a person styling one of my pieces to their taste is most inspiring.
Fafafoom: Who are you designing for?
Xuan-Thu Nguyen: I design for the woman who loves to mix art into every day life. I may design the garment, but they are only the canvas. I want every person who wears my designs to mix their own style, memories and life experiences to make each piece their own.
Fafafoom: With your meticulous attention to details (even though they are sometimes hidden from the outside) in creating garments that look “as simple as they should be,” is it important for you to have customers who appreciate the amount of extra work that you put into your design?
Xuan-Thu Nguyen: Of course! Skill and hard work are put into every design and collection from the very beginning sketches to final hand-stitch. I make each piece with love, keeping the woman in mind, as I work. I want her to feel special and that it’s designed for her.
Fafafoom: You create designs that are timeless and not season bound. So as you come up with new collections, instead of season, what is the unifying theme of each collections?
Xuan-Thu Nguyen: My work is very ethical and personal; I go by what I feel and see. My designs are a function of my ever wandering eyes. I pull from everything I see, and that which inspires me find’s it’s way into my design. I let myself get inspired without ever losing that attention to detail. Every flower and embroidery is meticulously thought-out and they shine from collection to collection.
Fafafoom: What is the Spring 2015 collection all about? Which piece is your must-have item?
Xuan-Thu Nguyen: The Spring/Summer 2015 collection is all about rebirth of the natural world, much like the transitioning from winter to spring – playful prints and chic designs are work seamlessly to bring this concept to life.
One of my favorite pieces from this collection is the silk, creme-colored floor-length floral print dress. It pairs perfectly with our hand-crafted gold beaded necklace, which can be transitioned from day into an evening look.
Fafafoom: What is your process in coming up with new designs for every collection, and do you observe an evolution in your creative process since you first started your company until now?
Xuan-Thu Nguyen: As a designer there is always an ever-changing creative process, art cannot grow without it. I always try to keep my early aesthetic and attention to detail, but I like to think of every new collection as new forms of inspiration and vision. I may not always be in the same place as I was for a previous collection and that will always be reflected in the designs. They’re inspired by own life experiences and each experience has a feeling that I pass onto my collections.
Fafafoom: Looking at the brand’s history, what is the DNA of Xuan-Thu Nguyen brand?
Xuan-Thu Nguyen: I would say the DNA is equal parts dreamer, designer, and craftsman. There’s a nostalgic element to my collection as it’s a product of my blended collection of memories and musings.
Fafafoom: How do you keep yourself energized with artistry and creativity while growing your business?
Xuan-Thu Nguyen: I like to find inspiration in the world around me. It’s definitely a balancing act between getting a business to grow and keeping one’s original and creative aesthetic, but I think finding a balance between the two gives me direction and even benefits my creative process.
Fafafoom: Are you expanding your brand internationally? If so, what is your strategy to attract customers in different regions of the world, in which what’s accepted as fashionable and on trend are usually different?
Xuan-Thu Nguyen: Most definitely; I want my brand to expand as much as it possibly can and be open to every kind of market. As a Vietnamese-born, Dutch immigrant living in Paris, I would say I have some experience in what would be accepted as fashionable or “on trend” for different regions and cultures. Although my collections may be inspired by certain trends, I would say there’s also a classic sensibility and details in each design that gives it a sense of timeless elegance that is easily translated into any region or culture.
Fafafoom: Last but not least, what does success mean to you?
Xuan-Thu Nguyen: There are so many ways to define success; I would say it is creating the opportunities needed to expand my brand and share a vision by creating products that resonate with a wide array of customers. I want to make pieces that woman will fall in love with and have their own memories and experiences they can attach to each unique piece.
Thank you very much, Xuan-Thu! We really appreciate you taking time to share some insights about your brand. We wish you all the best for your brand expansion!
Also, special thanks to Stephanie from MYN Collective for letting me know about X-TN. Check out X-TN website for more information about the Xuan-Thu and her brand! I’m personally looking forward to find her garments at a haute boutique somewhere, sometime. I can hardly wait.
Thank you for reading; until next time,
Photos courtesy of Xuan-Thu Nguyen via MYN Collective.