Michael Kors Endowed Scholarship, Kim Nguyen, Anna Radke, Fashion Institute of Technology,

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Kim Nguyen: New York is rife with culture

by Anna Radke
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Born and raised in Houston, Kim Nguyen moved to New York City to polish her design sensitivity. Soon, she created Colturra – a brand for independent and strong people who are comfortable in their own skin. As she didn’t like coat checks, she came up with an idea of a jacket on straps that you do not have to take off. Her creativity led her to receive Michael Kors Endowed Scholarship at Fashion Institute of Technology where she is a student. She often admits that she feels both vulnerable and strong while doing her job. Currently, she is working on a project for The CFDA Fashion Awards, and I’m certain that she has a bright future ahead.

Anna Radke: You moved from Houston to New York City.  I can imagine how hard it was. Did this step have an impact on you as a designer as well as n individual?

Kim Nguyen: Oh definitely, New York is rife with culture; it’s hard not to be influenced by the city. But I have a very deep connection with Houston that will always carry with me.

You studied at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and at Polimoda International Institute of Design and Marketing in Florence. Do you think that fashion education is crucial in becoming a designer?

I think it’s crucial to have education about fashion, but I don’t think it necessarily has to be through school, I mean there are a lot of things you can learn by looking at magazines, going to shops and boutiques, working for a brand–even if it’s in retail.

What does appeal more to you – American, Asian or European fashion?

I can’t say I prefer one over the other. Right now I’m really interested in what’s happening with young designers here in New York. Actually, I’m really interested in what Kanye is doing. I think it’s great.

You interned at The Satorialist and Norman Ambrose among others. How do you value the experience there?

Norman taught me the importance of pattern making perfectly. Everything I knew about making a garment was self-taught up until then, so anything he taught me I sort of clung onto because I practically knew nothing. At the Sartorialist, Scott let me attend a Kenzo presentation at the World Trade Center, and that’s when I realized that designing is about community, it’s just clothes but there are a lot of people involved in making them come alive.

You’re the first recipient of the Michael Kors Endowed Scholarship at Fashion Institute of Technology. What were you feelings before meeting the designer and Anna Wintour?

Honestly I’ve thought about meeting Anna Wintour for so long that when I did meet her it felt like I already knew her. Ok, admittedly I did read a biography about her when I was graduating high school. I respect her and Michael, they are incredibly hard working people with a lot of knowledge. And they’re both really nice!

How did it help you in pursuing your dream career?

It just made it more…real.

Tell me about the beginnings of your brand Colturra.

I guess it started with wanting to dress my friends and it’s still like that.

How would you describe your style?

I don’t know, I don’t really like when people ask me this question because it feels like I am being boxed into a certain category–and I don’t see my work in that way. I just know that the people I want to dress aren’t afraid to laugh.

What are the biggest challenges for a young designer in New York City?

Focusing and saying no.

How do you see yourself in five years?

Still doing what I’m doing now but with more people helping me.