The CultureMap Interview
Dallas designer Khanh Nguyen on inspiration for Nha Khanh and that one wardrobe must-have
Ever since she launched her Nha Khanh collection, our eyes have been on Dallas designer Khanh Nguyen, whose ready-to-wear, bridal and atelier collections reflect her elegant and modern sensibility. Born to creative Vietnamese parents, Nguyen started sketching designs and constructing dresses for her dolls when she was 5.
After earning her fine arts degree in fashion design at the University of North Texas, Nguyen jetted off to Paris for an internship, where she practiced the haute couture sewing techniques of Nina Ricci, draping methods of Madame Grès and millinery skills of Jean Paul Gaultier. She returned to Dallas to launch her first line in 2010.
Recently Neiman Marcus online picked up a few of Nguyen's exquisite pieces, so we chatted with the designer about her inspiration, daily regimen and a few of her favorite things.
CultureMap: During your internship in Paris, what did you envision for the future of your label?
Khanh Nguyen: Bridal. I was trained intensively in haute couture sewing, from Madame Grès' micro draping techniques to seamless lace sewing. I love to design bridal and evening dresses.
CM: What was the best piece of advice you learned from your mentors in Paris?
KN: To have good and luxurious taste in everything. You cannot buy taste level; it must be developed and built over time. Quality comes first.
CM: Where do you find the most inspiration?
KN: Nature and architecture.
CM:What's your favorite fabric to work with?
CM: Do you design your own clothing?
KN: Mostly cocktail and evening dresses.
CM: Who are some of your favorite designers?
KN: Givenchy, Elie Saab, the late Christian Dior and the late Madame Grès.
CM: What's your daily routine like?
KN: Every morning I spend about almost two hours getting my daughter ready for the day and cooking for her. Every day is different for me. I wear many hats at the studio; when I'm not designing, I make decisions and answer questions about sewing techniques and do media interviews and fittings with clients. I try to get off work at 5 pm to spend time with my family and take care of my daughter.
CM: It seems like most creative types have more than one creative outlet. Is there anything else you love to do?
KN: I love interior design. When I'm not working or spending time with my family, I love decorating my home or studio.
CM: What are your favorite restaurants in Dallas?
CM: What is one piece of clothing everyone must have in her closet?
KN: A perfect pair of dark skinny jeans.
CM: Your favorite piece in your closet?
KN: My Nha Khanh black Milace dress.
CM: Favorite travel destination?
CM: Any plans to open a Nha Khanh store?
KN: Yes, hopefully in the near future.