I fell in Love with Nha Khanh the first moment I saw the collection. Modern hard lines, lots of black and chic stark minimalism define the collection. We caught up with the young designer to photograph some of her latest pieces and to discuss nature, Paris, Facebook and Kim Kardashian.
Cannon: Why is nature such a strong influence in your designs? What ist it about nature that inspires you?
Nha Khanh: I love the beauty of nature. I find it to be so organic, mysterious and full of life.
C: You describe your company as providing "seasonal advanced contemporary ready-to-wear." What do you mean by "advanced" contemporary?
NK: Our “advanced” contemporary is on the borderline of the Designer and Contemporary price points. The Nha Khanh line is produced with designer quality with more of an easy price range.
C: When a woman puts on one of your garments, how do you want her to feel?
NK: Elegantly confident, in control of her surroundings and sexy.
C: How do you balance elegance with a modern edge?
NK: My inspirations tend to derive from nature, architecture and art. I turn to timeless and clean silhouettes while also playing with textures, geometric shapes, colors and innovative materials to add a modern point of view to my designs.
C: Have you had to break away from your home of Dallas, Texas in order to move into the world of fashion?
NK: I’ve been in Dallas since my family migrated to the United States in 1993. What broadened my design horizon was the Paris trip I embarked on during my summer study in 2008, where I was exposed to the ultimate fashion world. We produce the collection in Dallas, and our sales and PR teams are housed in NY, so the collection can be viewed by buyers and editors. Additionally, in the advanced digital age, with technologies of today and the internet, information is just a click away. We just need to plan things wisely and efficiently to maximize our efforts. I also take inspiration trips, like last summer I visited Da Lat, Vietnam which helped shape my Autumn 2012 collection.
C: Does being from Dallas inspire your designs in any way?
NK: It actually does in some ways. As a fashion designer, I feel the need of change in design, challenging myself to be increasingly creative and innovative. When I see so much of something, I get bored and then inspiration kicks in. In my atelier business, I’m very fortunate to work with many fashion-forward jet-setting women in Dallas who really inspire me and my work every day.
C: At a young age, you started constructing dresses for your dolls. Back then, did you know fashion would be your future?
NK: Growing up, I always knew I wanted to work in the apparel industry, but to be a fashion designer—I didn’t know the profession actually existed. In my Vietnamese culture, the apparel business is a very typical profession. Clothes are made by local shops or by family members. At the age of 6 or 7, I kept a journal of sketches of my designs. I started to make paper outfits for my paper dolls because we couldn’t afford an actual doll. When I finally got a real doll, I started to make garments for her. Whatever style my mom would make for me, I would make the exact same one for my doll. Looking back, it was so funny. I still have that doll in one of the dresses I made for her.
C: After receiving the Top Achievement Award at the Dallas Career Day Design Competition, you got the opportunity to intern in Paris. How was that experience for you?
NK: It was a game changer. The Paris fashion scene really opened my eyes and helped me realize fashion is beyond the clothes you have on your back, and rather a form of art, self expression and most certainly, lifestyle. It was a very special time in my life, where I knew this was what I was meant to be.
C: Kim Kardashian seems to be a huge supporter of your designs. How has that exposure been?
NK: It’s been incredible! She’s so beautiful and gorgeous. It’s amazing to have her support and the fact that she is supportive of young designers like myself.
C: Who else would you like to see wearing your designs in the future?
NK: I absolutely love Cate Blanchett and Gwyneth Paltrow. And of course, Carine Roitfeld.
C: How has the use of social media been helpful in launching and expanding your company?
NK: It’s incredible! In fact, I started my business straight out of college. After returning from my Paris trip for a summer study, I started to plan my wedding, designing and making all of my wedding gowns (I changed four times, it was exhausting!), my five bridesmaids’ dresses and two flower girl dresses. I posted the whole process on Facebook and the rest is history. We have really loyal fans, and their support is touching.
C: What designers do you look up to that have a similar design aestheic?
NK: Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy, Nicolas Ghesquiere while he was at Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent and Elie Saab.
C: What stores would you like to see your clothing sold at?
NK: Most stores that I’ve dreamt of having my line in have all been achieved, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Harvey Nichols and more. Now, I’d love to sell to Bergdorf Goodman and Net-a-Porter.
C: There is an apparent use of lace and leather in your past collections. What others materials do you like to use?
NK: I love wool and tweeds. Fall is my favorite season to design because other than lace and leather, I get to use wool and tweed.
C: If you did not take the opportunity to intern in Paris, where do you think you would be?
NK: New York City for sure.