In just a few days, a brand new local designer will hit the scene, showing the best of his SS12 collection at Luke’s Wings Fashion Takes Flight, at National’s Stadium on February 4th. His name: Nam Nguyen.
I sat down with the 19 year-old designer a few weeks ago, to review his collection for the show and find out more about how he got his start, what inspires him and what’s next.
Tell me about your label – Nam.
Nam is for anyone who needs a go-to statement outfit for a fun day at work or if they want to shine at a late night party – it’s all about versatility. I love making high-glam outfits to be able to walk around on a casual day – city day wear. My signature design is to put a spin on a classic piece.
How did you get your start?
I always loved fashion – ever since I was a child. I remember always wanting to go the mall, instead of playing on the playground.
I grew up in Fairfax County and they had an amazing fashion design program. I started taking classes my junior year and fell in love with it. During the summers, I took courses at FIT, specifically for menswear. (Side note: He found out that he preferred designing women’s wear to menswear because of the higher level of creativity.) By senior year, I had learned in two years, everything I would learn in college. Although I applied for colleges, I decided to stay in Northern Virginia and keep on sewing – to keep working towards my dream of being a designer.
What did you learn at FIT? Do you still practice what you learned?
I learned how to construct garments, drafting, draping, flat pattern making, as well as different techniques to create a garment. I still revisit my notes from high school.
Do you feel DC’s fashion scene is evolving?
DC has evolved so much. There seems to be so many more fashion shows here now – I’ve worked a lot of them backstage and it shows me there continues to be so much more fashion here than people know.
Dressed anyone particular in DC?
I’ve dressed a few local celebrities for well-known media outlets, one of which was featured on Bravo.
What is your inspiration?
I work with ballroom dresses at Encore Ballroom Couture. It is the biggest ballroom consignment shop in the United States. I’ve been working there since right out of high school and it’s where I get all my inspiration. It’s there I learned how to put the right embellishments on a gown – how to add stones, glue the right way, add appliques, etc. I also have to work with delicate materials, such as feather work – we get a lot of ostrich and turkey feather gowns.
Most of the gowns we get in can retail for up to $12,000 (consigned at $1200 – $7000) so it’s important to know how to work with such delicate fabrics and intricate designs. It’s this level of detail that I put into my own designs.
So tell me about your SS12 collection: Pallet
Pallet was inspired by a mix of 70’s fashion and colors with a touch of 90’s over-sized flare. I use light chiffons, heavy lace, and flowy, light-weight fabrics to complete the garments. This collection includes the go-to pieces in your closet that are both comfortable and appropriate to wear to work, but sexy enough to wear right into the evening for a night on the town.
What are your goals for this year?
Since my pieces are one-of-a-kind, they fall in line with couture. Therefore, I will continue making custom collections for my clients. (Prices range $80 for a skirt, $150-$250 for a dress and $400-$700 for a gown).
Why support Luke’s Wings?
I grew up in a church community and always loved doing charity events. Getting the opportunity to work with Luke’s Wings is thrilling, as I do believe in bringing home injured soldiers. My father was in the military in 60’s and 70s and although retired, I know he did a lot to serve our country.
Where you will be showing your collection next?
Crystal Couture, February 11th at 8:45pm.
Finale Showcase for the West Potomac Fashion Academy Design Class – May (TBD)