A Spanish fashion designer and his family, who have been living and running their business in Vietnam for years, wish to preserve the country’s rich and fascinating culture.
Residing in Hanoi, Diego Cortizas del Valle, a Spanish fashion designer, and his wife have been running their fashion brand in Vietnam for over a decade.
A group of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters were warmly and enthusiastically welcomed by the Spanish couple when they arrived at the main office of their fashion line, Chula, on Nhat Chieu Steet in the capital city.
The office is part of their tenanted ancient house which overlooks the West Lake, is made of wood and traditionally furnished with a garden, an ancestral altar, stone grinder, lanterns made from bamboo and many other traditional items.
“Do you know why we named our fashion brand ‘Chula’? It’s because we encounter the beauty of Vietnam every day, and Chula is the Spanish word that has the exact meaning,” Valle told the reporters with great excitement.
More importantly, the main reason why the couple started their business was to create an environment where people can meet and have fun, Valle said.
“Therefore, Chula is a family, a melting pot, and a fashion company in Vietnam,” he added.
Vietnam was initially a tourist destination for the newlyweds, Diego Valle and Laura Fontan, 12 years ago.
However, their trip to the Southeast Asian country became a turning point in their lives as the Spanish couple later decided to return and build a new life together.
“From the beginning, we felt that Vietnam had an energy that attracted us and kept us here. We then discovered that we had fallen in love with the country, from the landscape to the cuisine and especially the people,” Valle explained.
As Valle used to be an engineer and aspired to be a graphic designer, it is easy to understand why he chose to build a career as a fashion designer with his wife.
The inspiration for his creations mainly originates from the Vietnamese culture, people and scenery, as evidenced by the shapes and patterns of his pieces of clothing.
With the romantic and poetic yet powerful fusion of both European and Asian love, Valle’s designs have always left a strong impression on customers since the day they were first presented to the Vietnamese market at his showroom in Hanoi.
Since then he has grown the business to Ho Chi Minh City and the central city of Hoi An in 2014, and been part of the 2014 and 2015 Vietnam Fashion Weeks, and the 2015 Vietnam Culture Day, amongst others.
Vietnam has such a rich culture, Valle remarked, adding that Vietnamese cultural values have faded and been forgotten by modern society.
“For the past 11 years, as well as in the future, Chula has attempted to explore, preserve and enhance Vietnamese tradition in its own way,” the Spanish designer said.
The Spanish couple has given birth to three beautiful children, all of whom were born in the Vietnamese capital city and are fluent in Vietnamese, more so than their parents, Valled told the reporters laughing.
He then continued to share his love for Vietnam, especially Hanoi, recounting precious memories when Valle and his friends organized a photo exhibition with the theme of the capital city titled ‘Stepping into Each Other’s Worlds,’ or when he and his family took part in religious activities at local pagodas.
“It has become quite a hobby for me to wander around the West Lake on my motorcycle every evening. It always feels like I am experiencing something unique or facing a new challenge,” Valle added.
The Spanish family has celebrated the Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday in Hanoi for over 10 years, partaking in countless Vietnamese traditions, including tidying the house, preparing foods, and wrapping ‘banh chung,’ a type of traditional cake made from glutinous rice, beans and pork and commonly eaten during Tet.
They also rush to West Lake after 10:00 pm to welcome the Lunar New Year as well as witness the beautiful decoration, lights and fireworks performance.
While the kids cheer in great excitement at the pyrotechnic show illuminating the night sky, the couple often silently enjoy the chilly weather of the coming spring.
“It feels like something is awakening us, helping us prepare our intentions for the future,” Valle explained.
The Spanish family is living in an apartment complex on Xuan La Street, Tay Ho District, Valled said, adding that it is not difficult commuting as he has become familiar with the streets of Hanoi on his motorbike.
Valle is commemorating the 2016 Lunar New Year with his family in Hoi An and intends to open new showrooms in Ha Long and Sa Pa.
With a genuine love for Vietnam, Valled has expressed his biggest hope for the future is that his family can become official citizens of the Southeast Asian country.