Viet Fashion Week in Westminster Starts TOMORROW! – OC Weekly
Despite the preponderance of shops in Little Saigon that sell ao dais or the spectacular wear of Paris by Night performers, most folks remain unaware that a Vietnamese-centric fashion week exists. And according to Viet Fashion Week founder Tracy Pham, even OC’s Vietnamese community initially found it hard to grasp the notion of a Vietnamese fashion scene in its own backyard.
While Little Saigon is known for having a deep appreciation for music, fashion hasn’t garnered the same level of interest. “In our first two years of Viet Fashion Week we had a history of fashion week to educate the Vietnamese community,” says Pham. Now, she sees Vietnamese respecting and supporting fashion more, “People like seeing culture.”
Pham is an O.C native—she graduated from Fountain Valley High, and a retired model whose traveled the world and experienced the glitz and glamor of the fashion industry first-hand. Her impressive background also includes directing and choreographing over 300 fashion shows in the past 16 years, including Miss Global, Miss Vietnam Global, and Miss Vietnam USA. She noticed the under-representation of Vietnamese designers in the fashion industry and felt compelled to do something about it. Now, as a board of directors for the Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce, Pham organizes community charity benefits through fashion shows. This year’s Viet Fashion Week donations will benefit Senhoa, a non-profit organization that offers jewelry training vocation to survivors of human trafficking or sexual exploitation.
Designers hail from Orange County, Vietnam, and even Europe—Quynh Paris, is half French and half Vietnamese. Local designers include Cynthia Bui, Calvin Hiep, Yvonne Lux, Jacky Tai and Christy Pham, who all have their fashion houses in OC. Son Collection is a visiting designer from Vietnam.
While designers need to be at least 1% Vietnamese in order to be featured, models do not. “It’s just like any other fashion week, but all the designers are Vietnamese,” Pham says.
According to Pham, “Viet Fashion Week is Vietnamese culture blended with American modern design.” The traditional ao dai —a long shirt dress with high slits on the side—is featured heavily among Vietnamese designers, but with twists of avant-garde, couture, bridal, evening and ready-to-wear styles. It’s very trendy right now—Pham has even seen versions of it sold at H&M, yet most people do not recognize it as a Vietnamese staple.
The first-ever Viet Fashion Week was held at the Asian Garden Mall in Westminster, the second at the Westminster Rose Center and this year’s event will be at the Westminster Mall—Westminster represent! Pham says she hasn’t thought about moving Viet Fashion Week to fashion capitals like Los Angeles or New York because her and the largest Vietnamese expat community in the world call Orange County home: “You have to support your community first.”
Viet Fashion Week will air on Vietface TV —channel 57.2. Viet Fashion Week runs from May 20th to May 21st at the Westminster Mall, 1025 Westminster Mall, Westminster, 6p.m. $35-$100. For more information, go to www.vietfashionweek.com