A Dream Comes True

Vietnamese-American designer Nha Khanh shares her story and gives advice on flattering ways to dress for every shape.

Nha Khanh, who is known for her successful brand named Nha Khanh, creates designs that are elegant and romantic. Opposing her parents’ wishes, she pursued her fashion dream and followed her passion. There is no doubt she made the right decision. Recently, she shared some of her inspirations and tips with Culture Magazin.

What inspired you to be a fashion designer?

I was born into an artistic family. My father was a self-taught art teacher, and my mother was a bridal designer and entrepreneur. Being surrounded by fashion and art at a young age, I was inspired by the process of dressmaking in a conceptual and artistic way.

When did your love of fashion start?

Around the age of five, as soon as I learned to hold a pencil and knew how to dress myself. Come to think of it, my six-year-old daughter started to dress herself at around three or four years old.  She knows what she wants and has a great eye for fashion at such a young age.

How was it at the beginning? Did you find many challenges? How did you overcome all of them?

Being Asian American, it was challenging. During college, I was going against my parents’ wishes for me to pursue a medical career.  I didn’t have my parents’ support at the beginning, due to their lack of knowledge about the fashion industry in America.

As I began to build my fashion business, I quickly and painstakingly learned about teamwork. I discovered my weaknesses, as well as strengths, to build the team according to the needs of the business.  I had to learn to market myself and my design collections to the consumer.  I had to learn to inspire, lead, let go, and trust others to do their parts of the business.  As the business grew, there were more tasks, people to manage, decisions to make, and pressure overall. Simultaneously, I was trying to balance family and personal life. Things can easily become overwhelming, and with that, your sanity can be compromised.  To overcome these challenges, I’ve learned to take care of my physical and mental health through the things I eat, the thoughts I allow myself to have, the actions and attitudes I have towards everything I see and touch.  My husband also plays a big part and holds the key to our business.  I think being grateful, open, and able to adapt to new challenges makes life meaningful.

Have you ever thought what you would do if you were not a fashion designer?

I would love to be an interior designer. There’s a part of me that yearns to do things creatively. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur in some sort of a creative field.

Using few words to describe your style, what would you say?

Modern romantic with an unexpected twist.

What inspires your designs?

I am naturally drawn to nature, delicate and dreamy wildflowers, my daughter’s love of clothing through her fun, magical, imaginative mind.

What makes a beautiful dress?

Silhouette and proportion, as well as the confidence of the woman who’s wearing the dress.

Your designs are modern, feminine and use draping techniques that reflect Western styles. Have you ever applied Asian styles to your creations?

I have, to some degree.  I love the simplicity and elegance of our Vietnamese áo dài. I am all about making a statement with modern, romantic details using dedicate lace, soft flowing silk, sculptural silhouettes, and/or bold solid colours. But, generally my designs are heavily influenced by European style, especially French.

Lace is used a lot in most of your designs. Is this your favorite material?

Absolutely!  I love the timeless elegance of lace. It speaks to me poetically and romantically

Typical body shapes are apple, banana (or straight), pear and hourglass. What is the most flattering way to dress each one?

For apple shapes, go with fitted, not-too-much-fuss tops and flared skirts. For pear shapes, strong-shouldered blouses and slim bottoms. For hourglass shapes, body-con fitted dresses, tops, and bottoms. Accentuate the waistline. For lean column shapes, relaxed tailored pieces like button-down shirts or fun blouses and cropped denims or bottoms.

What trends, colours or patterns should we invest in this year?

Bold and vibrant colours, statement sleeves and ruffles.

What characteristics can make women successful in the workplace?

Confidence is key.

Can you share some career advice for young girls?

Pay attention to what you’re good at, decide what you want to do, and be the hardest working person in the room. When you are good at something, you’re already doing your job better than others and enjoying it. This makes life easier. Always be curious, ask a lot of questions, and be prepared to listen and learn. If you must speak about your competitors, speak highly of them, or inspire them to do better. Last but not least, keep an open mind for the unexpected things life throws your way. You never know, it could be your big break.

This content is also available in: Tiếng Việt

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This content is also available in: Tiếng Việt