Fashion designer Le Lam dreams of promoting Vietnam’s unique fashions to the world

(VOVWORLD) - Have you ever wondered if there is a story behind a sweater, a skirt, or a jacket that you’re wearing? Fashion, like other art genres, embraces cultural and historical values. For emerging fashion designer Le Lam, Vietnamese fashion is not just about clothes, but about the lifestyles of Vietnamese people.

30-year-old designer Le Lam initially chose architecture as his university major, but life had another plan for him. He ended up studying fashion, falling in love with it, and eventually landed a job as head designer of one of Vietnam’s biggest fashion brands. When, in 2016, Lam made the top 5 in the “Vietnam Emerging Designers” contest, he decided to create his own brand. His first collection, which combined western styles with traditional Vietnamese hand-embroidered lace details, drew favorable notice. Lam told VOV: “I really like working with sophisticated hand-made patterns, and lace embroidering satisfies this interest. I created my first collection out of my own interest in lace embroidering. I didn’t really expect it to receive so much positive feedback from customers. Some items were priced at around 500 USD, and they all sold out.”
Fashion designer Le Lam dreams of promoting Vietnam’s unique fashions to the world - ảnh 1One of Le Lam's designs from his first collection (Photo: LE LAM)

Some of the best sellers from Lam’s collection were blazers with lace details on the sleeves, long skirts or trousers with lace details on the cuffs, and long coats with lace pockets. With his customers' support, Lam made lace embroidering his main direction, hoping to promote the traditional Vietnamese craft to the international fashion community. He succeeded in cutting a deal with a craft village in Vu Ban district, Nam Dinh province, where people have been doing lace embroidery since the French occupation. Pham Quang Dai, a senior artisan in the village, said: “We have been cooperating with international fashion brands from France, Italy, and the UK, but this is the first time we’ve encountered a young, passionate Vietnamese designer like Le Lam. His designs embrace classic western styles with very proper lace details that require advanced skills to make, but we’ve been able to meet his requirements. I am very happy to work with him because I feel like we are creating beautiful artworks while upholding our village’s traditional craft.”

Fashion designer Le Lam dreams of promoting Vietnam’s unique fashions to the world - ảnh 2Hand-made lace details from Le Lam's designs by artisans in Nam Dinh province (Photo: LE LAM)

Since 2017, when Lam debuted his first collection, he has released a few more, including a wedding dress collection and an ao dai (traditional long dress) collection which appeared in The Korea Times newspaper. That collection was a fascinating experience for Lam. “That was the first time I took on a very difficult challenge, which is combining silk velvet with lace,” he said, “Silk velvet is a very soft, light and flowing material, and lace is also feminine, just like the nature of ao dai. Too much femininity in a design can make it cheesy and outdated, so it was very challenging to ensure classic and noble qualities for the collection. I had to work very closely with the artisans, we spent lots of time trying out different approaches, and fortunately it all paid off.”

Fashion designer Le Lam dreams of promoting Vietnam’s unique fashions to the world - ảnh 3One of Le Lam's designs from his ao dai collection (Photo: LE LAM)

Customers loved the ao dai collection, just as Lam had hoped. Trinh Bao Ngoc, a Vietnamese student in the UK, said: “I have bought a few items from Le Lam and my favorite one is ao dai. This is a symbol of Vietnamese women. I feel beautiful and unique, I feel proud when wearing it. A lot of my foreign friends compliment it, and I feel like I’m contributing to the promotion of Vietnamese culture.”

Le Lam is very careful in choosing materials for his products. Most of his choices are natural fibers such as linen, silk, and cotton, which are environment friendly. Lam said he is following the sustainable fashion trend that is very popular in the world today. “Many prestigious international fashion brands have used natural fibres in production, such as Chanel, McQueen, and Dior”, he shared, “I am very proud to be one of the first Vietnamese designers to follow this trend. Natural fibres are healthy for the customers as they help them regulate their body temperature, and also help protect the environment. I want to use my products to raise public awareness about sustainable fashion.”

Fashion designer Le Lam dreams of promoting Vietnam’s unique fashions to the world - ảnh 4MC Phi Linh (R) and MC Quynh Chi in Le Lam's designs (Photo: LE LAM)

MC Phi Linh, one of Le Lam’s regular customers, says her favorite designs from Lam are suits that have a menswear influence but still reflect women’s femininity. She told VOV: “I really like the fact that Le Lam uses pure Vietnamese materials but his designs are very contemporary, in line with current international fashion trends. They are full of girl power, suitable for strong and independent women, yet elegant and girly at the same time.”

Fashion designer Le Lam dreams of promoting Vietnam’s unique fashions to the world - ảnh 5Le Lam joins the Vietnam International Fashion Festival in December, 2020 (Photo: LE LAM)

Le Lam has shown his collections at a number of fashion events, including the Vietnam International Fashion Festival last December in Ho Chi Minh City. He believes he is not merely selling clothes, but promoting a unique fashion that is 100% Vietnamese. “I always want to add Vietnamese historical and cultural features into my designs to turn academic art into contemporary art”, he said, I think both the Vietnamese and the international fashion scene lack cultural features. Fashion culture is a macro term, but we can all start contributing to it in small steps. That’s what I want to do with my products to help promote Vietnamese fashion to the world.”