I had the opportunity to get one-on-one with some of the emerging talent set to shape the future of fashion in Melbourne and Australia including Andy Truong. An amazing self-taught Australian talent at the age of 15 years, Andy will be showcasing his Spring/Summer collection including an exclusive sneak peak of his Autumn/Winter 2013 collection for the first time at MSFW.
What's even more amazing is this young talent is a regular Year 10 student at Kew High with no formal industry education. Everything he's learned has come from watching YouTube including sewing and hemming to writing a media release. He juggles homework with two jobs in order to fund his fashion dream - photography, models, fabric and now his show at MSFW – he pays for it all himself with the money he earns. His first sewing machine was purchased from money he raised knitting and selling scarves and iPod socks to teachers and friends.
Andy and I chatted amidst the pressing schoolwork, maniac sewing and hectic preparation for his "Bringing the Outside In" fashion show.
Lionel: Why Fashion?
Andy: I grew up around fashion. My mum and I moved to Melbourne in 2006. My mother used to sew at home for Australian fashion brands so I was always around fabrics and threads. I have been sewing buttons to help mum since I was 6 years and fabric since year 7 (2009) but sketching since I could hold a pencil.
When Snow White Met Andy Truong Collection / Image courtesy of Andy Truong
So I chose to be a fashion designer because I knew about it. It was the very first trade that I understood. I don't really have a reason why I chose to be a designer, it just happened. I spend every spare minute designing, sewing, and refining my collection. During the last school holidays I worked the entire two weeks hand-embroidering the floral design on my Violet Duchess gown. I couldn't rest till it was finished. I completed my first collection 'When Snow White Met Andy Truong' in early 2011. My favourite designers are Elie Saab, John Galliano and Alex Perry.
Lionel: What's working in the fashion industry like for you?
Andy: I enjoy playing around with the fabrics. Draping it on the mannequin and looking at my vision slowly become a reality. I also love the feeling when a model or client tries on their dress for the first time and they immediately fall in love with it. Last year I moved onto making evening gowns resembling Couture and learning Couture techniques which blossomed my liking for elegant Haute Couture gowns. For my Spring/Summer 2012 collection, I focused on my skills in evening wear. I used mainly silks, chiffons, taffetas and organza fabrics for this collection.
Spring-Summer 2012 Collection / Image courtesy of Andy Truong
A major challenge I face is when the supplier runs out of my needed supplies. Sometimes I'll buy a few meter of fabric for a sample and then a client wants the exact same fabric for their own design (but they don't fit the sample so I need to make everything from scratch) but then when I arrive at the fabric shop they've run out of the fabric so I need to break the news to the clients… I feel horrible when that happens.
Lionel: What's the inspiration behind your Spring/Summer 2013 Collection?
Andy: I am designing for the women who like to dress high fashionably but from a youth perspective and I'd really like to dress Ricki Lee or Megan Gale.
The inspiration of my Spring/Summer 2013 collection was all things exotic and vibrant; plants, birds, fish, the tropical islands… Anything bright and colourful but had that tropical beach feel was a yes. I imagined the young woman wearing the clothes on a vacation to Hawaii or on a boat ride down the Nile River.
Spring-Summer 2013 Collection / Image courtesy of Andy Truong
I incorporated my Vietnamese culture in my designs. There is a national costume in Vietnam called the "Ao Dai". It's a tunic with side splits and pants. In my latest S/S 13 collection, I made two of them and I'd like to continue making them in my future collections and become known for designing them. Lionel: Where would you like your collection to be carried?
Andy: I really love it if Myer or David Jones would decide to stock my designs. Otherwise, high fashion boutiques either in Melbourne or Paris which feel my designs fit in with their store. I have a different design aesthetic than most fashion designers. Not many designers out there are doing the Vietnamese culture inspired pieces.
Lionel: How has Melbourne Spring Fashion Week helped you?
Andy: Melbourne Spring Fashion Week is a prime fashion market event. It is a wonderful launch pad for new and emerging designers and any fashion designer. I wanted to get my name out there. And what better way to do it then by showcasing at MSFW?
Spring-Summer 2013 Collection / Image courtesy of Andy Truong
MSFW has given me more than I can ever wish for. They've given me a reason to have the best publicists and they've accomplished my goal of getting my name out there. It's also launching my fashion brand. Along with that, Melbourne's biggest newspapers, The Age and The Herald Sun, and magazines have a lot of interest in me and my show and have interviewed me for their publications. This is great exposure and now Channel 7 has interviewed me too!
Lionel: What's the future of fashion in Melbourne and Australia?
Andy: I think the future is very bright for the Australian fashion industry. Melbourne houses two of the top twenty fashion schools in the world and the students that graduate from those schools end up working with great fashion brands and houses. Australian fashion week is also getting more recognised by international press so the future of our fashion industry is growing strong!
If you're interested in meeting Andy Truong, his "Bringing the Outside In" fashion show is on 5th of September 2012 at Trunk Town on 275 Exhibition Street, Melbourne 3000 at 7pm. Tickets are selling at the door for $20 each and with the ticket you get to view the show and hang around at the after-party.
Trunk is a unique venue for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks, offering one of the largest outdoor courtyards in the Melbourne CBD and home to a 150 year-old heritage listed Coral Tree, which inspired the name 'Trunk'.
Why? Who would have guessed that Melbourne produced fashion designers at the age of 15 years. Andy Truong is one such designer set to change the Australian fashion scene with his youth, perspectives and collections.