For as many current fashion designers who are advocates for new technology and high-tech materials, there are others on the other hand who uphold a strong affinity and resulting expertise with noble materials and organic visions. Among the latter is the Dutch-Vietnamese fashion designer Xuan-Thu Nguyen, an AMFI graduate who settled her company “XUAN” in Paris since 2004. The production for XUAN is based in France and the Netherlands, with her Dutch roots explaining her connection to Atelier Nèerlandais where we were invited to see her fall-winter 2018/2019 couture collection during Paris Fashion Week. The elegant white rooms of this historical building are perfect for fashion shows as they regularly take place, but for this show Xuan has chosen a completely different set-up.
Arriving at the venue, we hear that the invitees are escorted in group by group for an intimate presentation. After a short wait, we enter the building to find that instead of a traditional runway, there are tables and chairs assembled to make the space look like a lounge restaurant. We casually chat with the other bloggers and industry professionals at our table, as we are served refreshing drinks and hors d’oeuvres until the soft tunes of the music start the show. A waiter even appears to pour us some champagne, generously offering refills throughout the presentation. The models walk through the hallway into the rooms and zig-zag between the tables, at times brushing past us with the very voluminous designs. The unconventional set-up not only creates a very intimate and cozy atmosphere, it offers us a great view of the collection as we are able to see the looks from all different sides as they pass by closely.
Xuan’s collection is as uncommon as the set-up, featuring quite curious designs that are avant garde yet exude a very romantic and classic flair. Puffy blouses and blazers are adorned with bunched up chiffon or chunky ‘3-D digital’ flowers made of thicker fabric, and the asymmetrical silhouettes often have skirts with a longer layer on only one side. The most unique piece of all for us are the narrow-legged pants in light blue with a waterfall of heavy rushes cascading down them. The singular beauty and outlandishness of the garment is very special. Fulfilling her desire to explore new ways of using old-fashioned materials, Xuan has surely succeeded.