Director Viet Tu

Designer Cong Tri has spent two decades atop the vietnamese fashion world but remains a reticent public figure. In december, an anniversary event called cuc im lang (silence) will be held to celebrate his career.

Cong Tri has been a well-known name since the early 2000s, an era when Vietnam’s modern fashion scene was still underdeveloped. At that time, there was little in the way of fashion media and no blogs, while catwalks still utilized gimmicks such as emcees and singers to showcase collections. Reaching international events such as New York Fashion Week was still a fantasy for domestic designers.

When he appeared on the scene, Cong Tri instantly became a favorite of stylists, art directors, seasoned photographers and A-list models. But even as Cong Tri became a sought-after name, his attitude was in inverse proportion to his fame. In fact, his silence has seemed to grow along with his success.

During a time he was accused of being “heavily influenced” by Dolce & Gabbana and other international A-list designers, Cong Tri said little. As the designer remarked in an interview: “Whenever an issue arises, I use my left hand to hold my right hand instead of seeking other’s help,” a statement that expresses the self-reliant philosophy behind his development.

In one story, Cong Tri was interviewed by an expert about how he learned the secrets of the world’s best designers. He answered that because he couldn’t afford to study abroad, he learned his top-notch skills by saving money and on trips abroad purchasing Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino items to see how experts handled such materials.

Cong Tri’s first peak was from the early 2000s until 2008. This peak was followed by a silent period (defined as having no outstanding designs). Then in 2013, the designer suddenly returned with a simple show named “Thank you Saigon,” featuring a technique Tri called “dan lua long doi” (silk knitting). The collection and the show instantly topped the chart of the year’s most impressive shows. Afterwards, he retreated back to his silence. No statement was made. No explanation was delivered. He even showed no sign of future plans.

Then out of the blue in early 2018, fashion lovers were surprised with the news that Cong Tri had became the first Vietnamese designer to have his collection officially featured at NYFW. Cong Tri faced some unfriendly criticism that he appeared there only once then went silent on his second invitation. But he added to his eponymous brand numerous international A-list customers such as Michelle Obama, Beyonce, Rihanna, Rita Ora and Katy Perry.

Cong Tri has reaped success by being himself, someone who never violates his own way of life, a way of life he has been following for the last 20 years: silence.

“SILENCE” – an exhibition to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Nguyen Cong Tri’s career – will be held from December 27-29, 2019, at the SECC Convention and Exhibition Center in Ho Chi Minh City. Nguyen Cong Tri collaborated with 10 other popular artists, representing visual arts, film, choreography, photography and, architecture. Ten haute couture collections by Nguyen Cong Tri from the last 20 years serve as creative inspirations, from which each of his guests will continue their own stories based on their artistic genre.