NGUYEN LE HA THU - EXPERIENCE AS A DESIGN ASSISTANT | VIETNAM INTERNATIONAL FASHION WEEK
Updated: Nov 4, 2021
My name is Ha Thu. I am a Fashion Marketing & Communication student at LCDF - Hanoi.
I feel pretty lucky to be born in a family that has a fashion background. In middle school, I participated in Fashion Week every year and accompanied my mother to reality shows such as Vietnam’s Next Top Model, Project Runway and interacted with different young designers... Since then, the love I had for fashion grew and grew with these experiences. I was always curious about the world behind the illuminated fashion shows, so upon entering university, I immediately sought the opportunity to join the administrative team of Vietnam International Fashion Week - VIFW.
VIFW 2020 took place in December across 4 days at the Nguyen Du Stadium in HCM city. I flew into Saigon 3 days ahead in order to prepare for the show during the holiday week and to explore the lively city. The first day of the week was Welcome Party - the party that was exclusive to invitees, sponsors and designers. I was able to attend as the director’s assistant.
I had three choices: design assistant, model manager and guest escort. Each position had its own benefits but because I wanted to see the outfits up close, I requested to be the designers’ assistant. My main job was to help designers transport materials backstage, iron clothes, test outfits on models,... We would work in teams and each team would support a designer for each show. Before the first day of the week, we would have a small team meeting to discuss the work and assign tasks to each team member with their respective designers and exchange schedules and contacts.
On the first day of the show, I was assigned to prepare for Elisabetta Franchi Milan - DAFC. We had to be present at 7 am sharp to start organizing the stadium and backstage for designers to bring their materials in while the models came early to rehearse. By lunch break, we had already grown accustomed to each other as a team and got along really well. Around the time before the show started, the workload did not prove any difficult because everything had a lineup (outfit order, inventory organization and accessorizing according to the designer…)
Collection of designer Nguyen Tien Truyen at VIFW 2020 | IMAGE: saostyle.vn
The time that we had to focus tenfold was when the show truly started. We had to quickly and punctually change outfits for the models and bring the accessories to the stylists. Aside from that, we also met many celebrities such as Mau Thuy, Vo Hoang Yen, Thanh Hang and many others. We made sure the outfit changing process for the models went smoothly. There are models who have to quickly change between designers so the process must be quick to ensure the show goes on. Not only that, there are times when we would change an outfit to move to a second slot of a collection, so everything must be done pronto or there will be delays. Everything was truly chaotic, everyone was running around and put all their effort into their work. Sometimes there would be issues like zipping up, loss of accessories and we would have to improvise to make it in time.
IMAGE: Harper's Bazaar Vietnam
I gained a lot of invaluable experience: witnessing the entire process from A-Z backstage to create a fashion show. I also made acquaintances with a stylist team and learnt a lot of new things.
Backstage at VIFW 2020 | image: @tumanhhh
On the second day, I joined the support team for the stylist Nguyen Tien Truyen. This show included performances from the rapper Wowy, De Choat and Lang LD so we were lucky enough to take pictures with them. By the end of the day, because of our work we were gifted by the designer a box of creamy puffs as a thank you. I felt extremely happy!
Some pictures of Ha Thu with famous singers, rappers such as De Choat, Wowy, Lang LD at VIFW 2020
The third day was probably the most mellow out of Fashion Week for me. In 2020, this week not only included the participation of well-known designers but also youth designers that came from universities including my own (LCDF). Because I was a student then I was also asked to provide support.
The designer Duy Hoang - a top student at LCDF - had meticulously prepared the show the day before. When we didn’t help the models change into their outfits, we had the chance to chat with him. As an LCDF alumni, Duy Hoang shared with us many of his university experiences, especially his process of making the collection. I have truly gained a lot of wisdom from his words.
Collection of designer Duy Hoang at VIFW 2020
After working for 4-5 designers, I realized that every team who prepares with greater care will result in a smoother running show. There are young designers who are new to the scene and will sometimes run into confusion and will have to improvise certain things. These issues will sometimes interfere with the show and models alike. In my opinion, Cong Tri will have had careful and professional preparation so we rarely have to lend a helping hand.
Collection of designer Nguyen Cong Tri at VIFW 2020
The experience at Fashion week, albeit exhausting and challenging, proved as extremely valuable to me and gave me many memories that I will cherish. I have grown to understand the rigor behind the flashy platform as well as the people who put it all together. Truly, I will never forget this trip because it left a profound mark in my fashion journey. I am certain that when the pandemic is over, I will continue to participate in events with different roles and opportunities.