FASHION, STRIKING A BALANCE
Nancy Tran is the name behind exquisite, couture-cut garments. Born in Saigon and raised in the United States, Tran is known for the quality and cut of her clothing. For her most recent Spring/ Summer 2018 collection she has designed decadent day and cocktail dresses and evening gowns, as well as separates and unsurprisingly they exude sophistication and a thoughtfulness that comes with such luxury. This season’s themes of rebirth and radiance were captured via delicate butterflies and unfurling bouquets, signifying a bright confidence for all who wear the brand. How did you start in the fashion industry what was your training?
I actually had a successful career in corporate law and finance before one day realizing that I was ready for a change and enrolled in the fashion design associate program at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). And like any lifealtering decision, I faced this with a great deal of trepidation. But I was also aware that I really needed to challenge myself, and that to leap into this exciting, creative endeavor was actually following a dream I had held since growing up in Saigon. Even the process of getting into the program was arduous as I had to prove that despite not having the traditional “fashion” background I could bring a unique vision to the program and I was accepted. As I went through those FIT courses I was reminded of how as a child I used to sketch and design and create my own clothes. Even back then I taught myself how to sew, drape and make patterns so it was like rediscovering a part of myself I thought I had left behind. Of course, it was altogether a new experience to learn those fundamentals of dress making from brilliant industry teachers and mentors. And it took me a few years of trial and error before I was finally ready to launch my own line.
What is it about the industry that you find alluring/intoxicating?
There are highly dynamic aspects to Fashion as a form of self-expression. It is creative and constantly evolving. It can be approached as art but you still need to consider its commercial viability. It is both functional yet symbolic. It is an adornment yet an extension of oneself. And the industry itself is a constantly exciting engine of change spurred on by bold vision and populated by the most brilliantly creative individuals who are masters of so many disciplines. What is there not to find alluring?
Describe your brand aesthetic in 3 words.
Sophistication. Elegance. Timeless.
Luxury, what is this in your eyes?
To me, luxury is something you experience, that engages your senses and immerses you. And that is one of the key elements I incorporate into my creations. I keep in mind how a garment will make the wearer feel. And I am always looking for ways to make her feel transformed and elevated, beautiful and confident. If I succeed in that then she will have experienced luxury itself.
The collection exudes the ephemeral beauty of metamorphosis... how has your brand evolved?
Even though this is my debut collection, it took me over a year to really refine not just the core ideas of the brand but the practical creation of the pieces. I went through several sample iterations and experimented with proportions and sought out the finest fabrics and the ideal artisans who could execute the intricate details. It was a constantly developing process and along with my own evolution became the very inspiration of the collection. And that’s why the Spring Summer 2018 Collection is called “Transformation” that I launched at New York Fashion Week. And ultimately metamorphosis itself may actually be at the core of the brand because I continue to shape my new designs to reflect not just the seasonal changes around us but the rhythm of life itself.
What is your design to production process?
I begin with an idea, a concept that truly inspires me and that usually takes the visual form of something in nature. And that will grow into ancillary ideas that fall within that same motif. I then start sketching – silhouettes and
details – and I go out to source fabrics. Once I have those building blocks on hand, I go to my production team and work out the practical execution. I hand-pick the expert silk painters to translate my artwork which is then printed onto fabrics using advanced digital technology in New York City. Additionally, I work with the artisans who hand create the embroideries. So these designs actually travel across continents before finally emerging a completed garment, a combination of modern sophistication and oldworld perfection.
Tell us about the color palette and materials you have used for your latest collection...
For the Spring Summer 2018 collection, I really wanted to dive into these beautiful colors that will captivate the beholder. I didn’t want to play it safe or just create another dozen or so black pieces of which everyone probably already owns two dozen. The collection is for a woman who isn’t afraid to be herself or to enjoy the attention. So I use a lot of ravishing pinks, yellows, reds, and blues in various shades – not quite bright but not quite muted. I sought to capture a sweet spot where it was just right. The fabrics are mostly silk and taffeta, all soft as butter against the skin.
You’ve gone with classic silhouettes when you are sketching do you have anyone in mind?
Audrey Hepburn has always inspired me, not only for her immense fashion sense but also for her humanitarian endeavors. I want the brand to exemplify beauty inside and out. Audrey was radiant, graceful, and elegant. She was also unafraid to explore avant-garde silhouettes while retaining her signature-refined beauty. She was the epitome of 1950’s glamour - the decade where the style was born - a time when elegance was the cornerstone of fashion. Long after her passing, her status as a style and fashion icon still remain intact. She left an inimitable legacy that continues to inspire today.
Where did your themes of rebirth and radiance come from?
As I mentioned earlier, I start with an idea of nature itself. But for this collection, I knew I wanted to encourage this notion of discovering yourself and letting beauty emerge from yourself. It was about the collection, and about my own personal journey, and about the women I wanted to dress. I have always been intrigued and inspired by the power of transformation. It takes courage, willpower, and passion to allow and commit oneself to be transformed.
What is glamour to you?
To me, a woman has glamour when she possesses a quiet confidence, charisma and a sense of humanity. It takes inner strength, courage, and character to genuinely care for others, as much as one cares for oneself, and a woman who does this is truly beautiful. This beauty permeates and shines through from her inner self outward giving her a glow and glamour that is simply incomparable.