There’s something nostalgic about looking back at a piece of clothing you wore when you felt truly beautiful, and that’s the exact feeling that I aim to provide. From putting my foot down on my first sewing machine pedal at the age of five, I was enamored with a world of designing, creating, and most importantly, experimenting. After leaving both Minnesota and the professional ballet track in 2017, I found myself caught in a balancing act between past and present while pivoting to new worlds at Parsons School of Design in New York City, but growing up Vietnamese-American, it wasn’t the first time I found myself stuck between two opposing worlds.
My breakout thesis collection, “In the Mắt of Người Xem” (a blend of confused Vietnamese and English playing on “in the eye of the beholder) has led me not only to a collection, but down a path of self discovery and reflection of my own upbringing and at times, emotionally difficult family history. In doing so, the practice of creation became a method of therapy for emotional scars and bruises of the past. Through this collection, I examine issues related to mixed race identity confusion through my Vietnamese-American lens during a time of increased hate towards AAPI individuals, the emotional scarring and bruises that come as a result, and how perception has the power to shift seeming conflict and emotional distress into harmony.
Designing a thesis collection entirely online during the pandemic proved to be a challenge from a physical construction aspect. As such, this collection is still very much a work in progress.
A brief overview of my visual research and ideation. For a more in-depth look, please view the full document by clicking here.
Prints in this collection were developed around the idea of a kaleidoscope, as they require a deliberate change in perspective to see something unique and beautiful, as well as the idea of contrasting cultures.
A solid color palette in this collection was forgone to reflect the confusion skin color can create within mixed individuals. The color palette prints were developed around the ideas of shifting skin undertones, as well as emotional scarring and bruising.
In Vietnamese culture, we have a headpiece called the khăn đóng meant to be worn with our traditional dress, the áo dài. When I was younger, I was surrounded by images of western princesses in tiaras, and would try to turn my khăn đóng upside down with the scallops on top, to try to make it look like a tiara. As I’ve grown up, I’ve realized that the khăn đóng is incredibly regal on its own. Wearing it is a sign of pride and elegance. As such, it was important to me to incorporate modern interpretations of both the khăn đóng and the áo dài in this collection.
Please note that these are not the final images for this collection.