How Rihanna changed the fate of a little-known Vietnamese designer

Dec 22, 2021 | 0 comments

When Rihanna posed for an ad campaign she also made a star out of the little-known Vietnamese designer who made the oversized white shirt she posed in.

Billionaire singer Rihanna had changed the fate of a little-known Vietnamese designer when she posed for an ad campaign by luxury shoemaker Manolo Blahnik in an oversized white shirt which he had designed.

For more than two decades, Nguyen Cong Tri has been crafting chic structured eveningwear made of Vietnamese-spun silk, organza or taffeta, but despite some success at home, his designs had gained less traction elsewhere.

But when Rihanna showcased his Em Hoa range, inspired by the flower sellers of Vietnam, one famous name after another — Beyonce, Naomi Campbell, Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry, and Rita Ora among them — began picking out his designs to wear to high profile events.

“I am so proud. Designs by a Vietnamese designer, all Vietnamese production, being chosen and worn by Hollywood stars,” he told AFP from his glamourous “Cong Tri” boutique in Ho Chi Minh City.

Some of his collections were dreamt up during flights over the rice fields of his homeland, another was influenced by the all-women militias of the Vietnam War.

With three stores in the country’s business capital, a judging role on the local version of reality TV show Project Runway, and growing international interest — he is a firm believer Vietnam has more to offer fashion beyond its role of factory workhorse.

Tri now has a staff of more than 150 people and is hopeful his success can guide a new generation of talent.

He said: “It won’t be too far in the future that Vietnam can stake its claim on the world fashion map.”

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