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Half-Vietnamese female fashionistas garner fame in global arena

Monday, February 23, 2015, 11:38 GMT+7

Some female fashion designers, models, and stylists of mixed Vietnamese and Western origins have carved out successful careers in the world’s glamorous yet harsh fashion industry over the past few decades.

The women have garnered notable success in the fashion industry in such global fashion hubs as Paris, Milan and New York.

Tuoi Tre News introduces three such women.

Barbara Bui

Barbara Bui, 58, is an accomplished half-French fashion designer. She was born in Paris to a Vietnamese father and a French mother.

Despite her passion for drama, she obtained a doctoral degree in British literature from France’s prestigious Sorbonne University in 1983, before trying her hand at fashion design.

“I went from wanting to write with words to wanting to write more directly with shapes, colors, and lines,” she said on her website.

Bui’s first creations were limited editions principally in leather and suede, or leather with a velvety surface, which were custom-made in her studio-boutique.

She added on her website that her love for leather, fur and skin pervades all her collections and has become her signature style, which has always been warmly embraced by her clientele.

Bui was one of the first designers to open an eponymous boutique, in 1987, when this was still rare in the fashion world, according to her website.

Over the years the Barbara Bui fashion house has opened flagship stores on several of the most prestigious streets in the world: Avenue Montaigne and Rue Du Faubourg St Honoré in Paris, Soho in New York, and Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles.

Spurred on by the notable success of her Barbara Bui line focusing on affluent clientele, Bui went on to launch BB Initials, which caters to the average-income segment, in 1998.

Bui’s collections have become increasingly wide-ranging, including sophisticated embroidery work, and are widely loved for their meticulous finishing touches, fine details, and accentuation of a woman’s balance between energy and great femininity.

She earned membership to the French Haute Couture Association in 2003.

“My Vietnamese part, which is mostly emotional, is built up from the stories my father would tell me when I was young. My designs are thus imbued with my Vietnamese identity and receptiveness toward different world cultures,” she told Elle Vietnam magazine.


Half-French fashion designer Barbara Bui is pictured at her own fashion studio in Paris. Photo: Vietnamplus

Melanie Utzamann Huynh

Of Vietnamese and French origin, Mélanie Utzamann Huynh worked as a fashion editor at Vogue Paris, the French edition of world-famous Vogue magazine, according to Vietnamplus and some other foreign fashion sites, including

She considers her time working at Vogue Paris with Carine Roitfeld, its editor-in-chief between 2001 and 2010, the greatest source of inspiration throughout her entire styling and fashion writing career.

Huynh quit her job at Vogue Paris shortly following Roitfield’s resignation in December 2010, and has been a freelance fashion stylist since.

Not only known for her compelling work within the pages of Vogue Paris and on the runway for topnotch designers, Melanie Huynh is also one of the fashion industry’s most photographed faces, noted.

Her inimitable personal style has made her a budding street style icon on fashion websites, as she looks gorgeous in countless street style shoots which famed photographers have taken of her.

She told the website that she has been passionate about fashion since she was young and embarked on her styling career by working for fashion houses before transitioning to publishing.

Huynh said she can be inspired by a film, book, show, a muse or an icon. However, she mostly trusts her instincts and tries to feel the current trends herself.

She has worked with many world-renowned fashion brands including Saint Laurent, Alexander Wang and Joseph Altuzarra. 

Her clientele are from both Paris and other world fashion hubs such as New York and Los Angeles.


Half-French fashion stylist/editor Melanie Utzamann Huynh (left) is seen at a Paris fashion week. Photo: Vietnamplus

Anh Duong

Anh Duong, now 53, was born in Bordeaux, France to a Vietnamese father and a Spanish mother, according to Elle Vietnam’s website.

She was a much-loved model on international runways and now devotes her time to her painting career.

At 23, Duong first visited her fatherland, Vietnam, which she considered an alluring paradise that was torn by war.

During her second trip to Vietnam in 2011, the woman kept marveling at the socio-economic strides the country had made.

Trained to become a professional ballerina, Duong gave up on that dream due to her excessive height, Vietnamplus reported.

Her beauty impressed David Seidner, an American photographer known for his portraits and fashion photography.

He chose her for a major advertising campaign he was working on in Paris then.

Duong was soon catapulted to fame, with her photo shoots published in such fashion magazines as Vogue, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar.

She bumped into Christian Lacroix, a noted French fashion designer, in 1988, when he was about to launch his first haute couture collection.

The chance meeting was a great milestone in the pair’s fruitful cooperation that followed.

However, modeling is not Duong’s top choice.

At 29, she switched to painting and sculpturing and has remained active while organizing numerous exhibitions in different countries since.

Many of her works are self-portraits which depict her in a seemingly unattractive way, but in her opinion accentuate her charms.

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