Mi-17: House of Nguyen Designs 2017 Collection

Right on the heels of #FWMN Fall 2016, House of Nguyen Designs presented an 80-look collection for 2017 at 514 Studios in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis.  The collection included both menswear and womenswear looks ranging from casual streetwear to sexy clubwear to special occasion gowns.  

The brain (and beauty) behind the brand - Mimi Nguyen - is an self-taught designer.  Her expansive offerings stem from a creative mind that is always thinking, and an ambitious attitude of making whatever the hell she wants.  Mimi is a part of consulting group Royal Krew Co, who I went to visit before FWMN.  

Head of House of Nguyen Designs, Mimi, enjoying her moment at the finale of Mi-17.

Head of House of Nguyen Designs, Mimi, enjoying her moment at the finale of Mi-17.

While not showing in an official FWMN event, House of Ngyuen Designs did end up on the Envision Fall 2016 runway, on host Tricia Heuring: 

Tricia Heuring wearing House of Ngyuen Designs to host Envision's 10th Anniversary.

Tricia Heuring wearing House of Ngyuen Designs to host Envision's 10th Anniversary.

I also got to wear something by House of Ngyuen during FWMN - a blue satin and lace robe, which I later got to see grace the Mi-17 runway: 

Satin and lace robe c/o House of Nguyen Designs, leggings by Hue, shoes by DV Dolce Vita, necklace by House of Gemmes.

Satin and lace robe c/o House of Nguyen Designs, leggings by Hue, shoes by DV Dolce Vita, necklace by House of Gemmes.

House of Nguyen’s 2017 showcase was definitely different than other Twin Cities fashion events.  While skin was definitely trending at Envision (formal recap to come!), Mimi’s designs had a different approach, and it's one that I am a fan of.  Whether it’s an LBD and stockings at Black Hearts Ball, or laser cut pleather at MN4MN, or a mesh cami at #Minnstafashion, you can probably tell that I love working lingerie into a look and Mimi gave me plenty of ways to do just that.

You know when you were young and had to go shopping with your parents, and there were always those outfits you really wanted that they wouldn’t buy for you because they were too sexy?  That’s the vibe of the standout looks in Mimi’s collection. And I love it.  Fashion is supposed to be fun and watching the models walking down the runway, I kept thinking of all the parties, concerts, hot dates, night clubs, girls nights, and everything else they’d be heading to in House of Nguyen Designs. 

I mean, the first thing she sent down the runway was this:

First look from Mi-17.

First look from Mi-17.

Then there were some looks that were maybe demure in the front, and a little more daring in the back: 

And lots of stuff in between:

A selection of pieces from House of Nguyen Designs is available at Showroom, and you can contact the brand on Facebook for more information, but you can also shop the new 2017 collection this Sunday, October 9 at an open house the brand is hosting.  More details about the open house can be found on the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/775923032550643/ 

Mimi will also be competing in a Prince themed KFAI Fundraiser fashion show on Saturday, October 8 - https://www.facebook.com/events/1738884149714018/ and showing at Twisted Hare Salon and Spa’s Masked Masquerade Fashion Show in November - https://www.facebook.com/events/103293896800609/

Fashion Week MN (FWMN) Fall 2016 Highlights

Minnesota fashion-focused pop-up shops, runway shows, open house events, gallery exhibits, and more were held throughout the Twin Cities from September 15 - September 25, 2016 as part of the third season of the Fashion Week Minnesota (FWMN) initiative.  FWMN events showcase current season/special edition collections from local designers or boutiques to celebrate local creativity and inspire Minnesotans to support each other and our local businesses.  

FWMN balloons outside Intelligent Nutrients for I Am Inspired.

FWMN balloons outside Intelligent Nutrients for I Am Inspired.

This season was probably my busiest yet, but I am so grateful to have been immersed in so much of it.  Minnesota may not be seen as a fashion capital like New York or Paris, but the creativity and community here are just as inspiring to me.  Below are some highlights from each of the events I experienced.  More in-depth looks to come!  


#Minnstafashion
Thursday, September 15

Photo wall at Minnstafashion.  Photo by  E3 Photography .

Photo wall at Minnstafashion.  Photo by E3 Photography.

Highlight - Threader earrings and more from Goldfine Designs and getting excited about the week to come with both old and new friends.  Bonus: Meeting the namesake behind a dress I pre-ordered from Samantha Rei.  


Reali Runway V2
Saturday, September 17 

Highlight - Live musical performances + live runway presentations are always a win.  Bonus: Seeing The Exchange completely differently (and from a much more sober point of view) than usual.   


I Am Inspired
Sunday, September 18 


Throwing #confetti in the #phhhoto booth at #iaminspiredmsp. @fashionweekmn @iaminspiredmsp #fwmn #minnesota

A video posted by Liz M. (@poizenisxkandee) on


Highlight - Throwing confetti in the Phhhoto booth.  Bonus: FWMN balloons in vehicles by event sponsor Range Rover…thus getting that Chainsmokers + Halsey song stuck in my head.  


Matryoshka in Japan: Danielle Everine Fashion Exhibition
Tuesday, September 20 

Highlight -  3D glasses made the printed fabrics pop.  Bonus: Taking a few 360-degree Virtual Reality shots of the models and the space.  


FWMN Homme
Wednesday, September 21

Highlight - Cvstings giving us a crop top for men and finally seeing Mermaids & Accolades in real life as opposed to on Instagram.


MN4MN Blank Canvas
Friday, September 23

Clothes by  Autumn's Vintage , helmet by Jesse Golfis 

Clothes by Autumn's Vintage, helmet by Jesse Golfis 

Highlight - The live presentation was really powerful.  Bonus: Finding out the eco-fashion designer behind Foat is married to the artist behind my favorite sneaker from last year’s exhibition: 








Envision
Saturday, September 24



Highlight - seeing the Kindred Folk collection I previewed for CityPages come to life on the runway.


Full Fashion Panic
Sunday, September 25 

 

Highlight - Falling in love with emerging designers like Nang Mai Designs by Maria Dang and seeing the latest collection from one of the very first designers in Minnesota I ever encountered - Otherrealm by Lucie Biros.  Bonus: Show director Samantha Rei Crossland’s call to action at the end - that supporting runway events showing the art of fashion is only one side of the equation, and in order to keep the events running, we need to support the businesses the artists are running and buy the clothes they make.  


 

It seems the Minnesota fashion community is only getting stronger and its support is growing.  I am so excited to be a part of it and share what’s coming up next.  

Fashion Week Minnesota: Envision Spring 2016

The 19th season of Envision, the longest running fashion event in the Twin Cities, took place on April 9, 2016. 

Held once again in the atrium of Orchestra Hall, the spring/summer collections from nine Minnesota fashion designers walked the runway to custom mixes by Monsieur Adi, with choreographer and Hotrocity founder John Mark Hostetler hosting. 

John Mark hosting Envision.

John Mark hosting Envision.

The silent auction pre-party portion was scrapped for a collaborative art table previewing a new exhibit at Public Functionary and more focus on musical performances. Electro-pop band Holidae performed and I absolutely fell in love.  It’s fun when different local art forms and communities mesh together - some of my favorite bands and musicians I’ve come across at fashion events. 

There were fewer designers than usual, but l find the video introductions for each designer/collection fun and helpful.  I feel a stronger connection to the clothes and the community when I have some background on the inspiration and the artist.  Collections from Envision veterans like Kjurek were included with up-and-coming designers like Form Over Function.  

Part I - Jenny Carle, Joeleen Torvick, Hiccup by Handley, Russell Bourrienne, Kjurek

 

Part II - Form Over Function, Cliche, Cory Allen, Emily Trevor. 

 

The clothes and felt  whole show felt really spring - from the pastels and brights to the shorts and swimwear.   

The 10 year anniversary edition of Envision is scheduled for September 25, 2016. For more information, see the Envision website.

Fashion Week Minnesota Spring 2016 Recap

Spring 2016 marked the second official Fashion Week Minnesota.  There seemed to be even more people and more events than before and I hope the energy throughout the fashion community stays this strong moving forward. 


Samantha Rei - id.ego Homecoming & Elixery Lipstick Release 

Sketches from Samantha Rei's id.ego collection. 

Sketches from Samantha Rei's id.ego collection. 

While not part of the “official” FWMN lineup, Samantha Rei’s Elixery lipstick collaboration launch and id.ego collection homecoming (after walking the runway at Vancouver Fashion Week) event was a great way to get in the spirit.  The collection was paired with John Fluevog Shoes and three custom created lipstick shades from Minnesota based cosmetic line Elixery.  


The three Elixery + Samantha Rei lipsticks 

The three Elixery + Samantha Rei lipsticks 

I tried on all three lipsticks and ended up buying one - the deep burgundy shade "Quantum."

Look from Samantha Rei.

Look from Samantha Rei.

The event showcased the collection at Samantha Rei’s North Loop space and featured pop ups from Fluevog and Elixery, and also newly launched Minneapolis goth-y jewelry line Anhedonie.  


Fashion Week MN - Kickoff Party 

The “official” Fashion Week opener was the kickoff party at Cliche.  I’ve seen Cliche’s offerings at Envision and passed by the store on the bus, but have never actually stopped in until the event.  The DJ was setting the tone for a week of local fashion by dropping a lot of songs by local musicians, which I loved.  



Envision 

The current longest running fashion event in the Twin Cities, Spring 2016 marked the 19th season of Envision.  There were fewer designers showing than in past seasons, but the audience was bigger than ever.  Still a really big fan of everything Lauren of Form Over Function is doing, and loved/hated finding out that a lot of the pieces Kjurek showed had already sold when I inquired about them a few days later.  



Challenger Collection - Kandler 

Some looks from Kandler's Challenger inspired collection.

Some looks from Kandler's Challenger inspired collection.

Luci Kandler held an informal open house displaying her latest collection not only on mannequins and hangers, but also on live models.  In addition to the clothes, the prints that she created by hand were displayed - on canvases and as backdrops.  

At first, I was a little taken aback by the inspiration of the collection being the Challenger explosion, but her further exploration (as documented in CityPages) into human fragility made it somehow less taboo.  There was a lot of thought put into the collection, but it didn’t seem over designed.  

The pinks and blues made it fun for spring, combined with the grey and black make it easy for anyone to wear.  Mostly, I loved all the different uses of texture - from the tinsel-y top, to the mesh, to the embossed leather.  


Minnstafashion 

The second installment of The Scout Guide + The W Hotel’s #Minnstafashion was a lot bigger than the first one.  I got there a bit late and missed some of the highlights, but there were pop up shops from Flirt Lingerie, Martin Patrick 3, and more.  

I moved to Minnesota without knowing anyone here really and met a lot of the people I like to spend time with through social media, so a night out at a social media themed fashion event was a great way to spend an evening.  

Photo by E3 Photography. 

Photo by E3 Photography. 

If you know my sense of style, you know that sometimes I love an outfit that makes my undergarments part of my outfit.  This DVF wrap dress had a really deep V in front, so I layered a Uye Surana cami over my bra and under the dress for coverage.   


Black Hearts Ball 

The third annual formal black-and-white affair headed by Tim and Thom Navarro usually takes place on or around Valentine’s Day, but this year it took place near the end of Fashion Week Minnesota.  

Black Hearts Ball is basically a dressy party centered around a runway show set to classical and opera music, and it’s amazing.  

I rented a ML Monique Lhuillier dress from Rent The Runway for the event and loved both the dress and the experience!



The Shoot: Part II 

A sequel to the Fall 2015 event, The Shoot aimed to show the behind the scenes magic behind a fashion photo shoot.  There was coffee and a pop up shop with clothes from ACG and Workerby, lipstick from Elixery, jewelry from Neal Jewelry, and headwear from Ruby3.  Spring weather was in full effect which meant a couple of food trucks even popped up outside.  

The Shop provided a way to shop local designers while at The Shoot event.

The Shop provided a way to shop local designers while at The Shoot event.

I don't really wear hats, other than the occasional beanie in winter, but I like this one by Ruby 3. 

I don't really wear hats, other than the occasional beanie in winter, but I like this one by Ruby 3. 

Projectors displayed the photos as they were being taken.  All of the work that goes into a lookbook shoot tends to be appreciated in the finished product, but not necessarily noticed - all of the styling and editing takes time and it was fun to take an afternoon to get a glimpse of the action.  



I feel like I never caught up on rest after FWMN, but that’s okay because I’m happy to ride the energy of all the creativity and inspiration the designers, producers, and everyone in between have sparked.  

Supporting Minnesota fashion doesn’t end when fashion week does. There are events with local makers, artists, designers, and boutiques year round!  Some upcoming highlights include SAZONmoda’s debut fashion show on May 5, Ruby3 and Allegra Lockstadt’s Kentucky Derby themed party + pop up shop on May 7, various pop-up shops and open houses (including Tessa Louise and Hazel & Rose) during Art-A-Whirl on May 20-21, and FGI Minnesota's "Runway to Ready to Wear" presentation on May 24. 

Inaugural Season of Fashion Week Minnesota in Review

September 20 – 26, 2015 marked the first official Fashion Week Minnesota. 

Before FWMN, there was MNFashion- an organization that provided the local fashion community with a hub of resources and peers, produced fashion showcases such as Voltage and The Shows, and defined the official Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week (MSPFW).   As the fashion community grew, MNFashion was no longer able to do what they were formed to do, and more independent designers produced their own shows.  MNFashion dissolved shortly after I moved to Minnesota, so I am not able to speak to fashion in Minnesota before this.  I can say that it was clear at last summer’s Rally Cry: Fashion hosted by Pollen that this too was becoming unmanageable. 

Among the major discussion points at Rally Cry were how to bridge the disconnect between people who go to the shows and the people who actually buy the clothes, and to encourage designers to treat fashion like a business…because nobody is making a living throwing fun parties. 

Enter Fashion Week Minnesota – an initiative formed by “a collective of independent producers and designers with a goal of engaging the Minnesota fashion community and celebrating the best designers, brands, retailers, stylists, and producers in Minnesota fashion through a series of public events”.

FWMN excites me because there is such a large and talented creative community in Minnesota, that having a central focus week and way to connect everything will hopefully inspire collaboration and strengthen it. 

I had a few work/personal conflicts over the week, but was able to participate in most of the events.  


I AM INSPIRED

I actually won a raffle at a pre-FWMN event for tickets to I Am Inspired and I’m so grateful I did!  Hardt Jewelry and Moth Oddities had a pre-fashion week shopping event/clothing drive with raffle entries for fashion show tickets as an incentive to donate.  I Am Inspired was the only show I hadn’t already planned to attend, so I entered the raffle and ended up winning.  

Event program for I Am Inspired

Event program for I Am Inspired

The event aimed to merge art and fashion, and was in collaboration with The Art Institutes International Minnesota.  Art students had were snapping photos, created animations inspired by the boutiques, and made garments inspired by the art of Justin James Sehorn.

Sarah Edwards in a floral dress by Emma Berg. 

Sarah Edwards in a floral dress by Emma Berg. 

Event mastermind Sarah Edwards said, “We are all artists in some way. We have different jobs and titles, but we are all artists.” to kick off the night.

There was harp music as the sun was setting – it was a beautiful way to spend a Sunday evening. 

Music provided by James Buxton

Music provided by James Buxton

The runway portion included six different boutiques/brands in Minnesota, including My Sister – an organization that works to stop human trafficking and encourage other women to empower each other. 

Feminist sweatshirt from My Sister.

Feminist sweatshirt from My Sister.


#MINNSTAFASHION

A portmanteau of “Minnesota”, “Instagram”, and “Fashion”; the event was presented by The Scout Guide and the W Minneapolis Foshay hotel on Tuesday, September 22.  

The Scout Guide is available in several cities and highlights local businesses both in print and online.  Through this event, I learned that W Hotels International partner with the CFDA to create different events and garments, some of which were shown on live models throughout the night and were given as prizes in an Instagram contest.  

Scarf and beanie by Orley for W Hotels

Scarf and beanie by Orley for W Hotels

There was also a pop-up shop where some of the CFDA+W Hotels items were available, as well as items from local boutiques Merilou, Stephanie’s, and Flirt Boutique.  The pop-up shop also featured jewelry by Valerie Carpender and accessories by Danielle Sakry.

Kaftan by Misha No Noo, necklace by Valerie Carpender

Kaftan by Misha No Noo, necklace by Valerie Carpender


LARK

In order to stay true to supporting the fashion community beyond going to shows and buying clothes, and at the suggestion of Thom Navarro, I wanted to help be behind the scenes at a fashion event. 

I still made time to get in front of the camera, though!

I still made time to get in front of the camera, though!

I loved being able to work with Tim and Thom Navarro, get involved with the community, and meet great Minnesota creatives.  The event opened with a pop-up gallery showcasing editorial photos of Jagress Intimates’s latest collection, as well as a pop-up shop of Black Spoke Leather accessories, and an Instagram hashtag printer. 

Black Spoke Leather Co pop up at LARK.

Black Spoke Leather Co pop up at LARK.

The runway portion featured not only the return of TIM+THOM, but Samantha Rei’s latest collection, and a collection from a Shiader Vue – an emerging designer and recent graduate of the Art Institutes International Minnesota. 

LARK was recently voted the year’s “Best Fashion Show” by CityPages.


PLUS-SIZE POP-UP SHOP 

Bella Moxie and Cat Inspired partnered with Second Debut in St. Louis Park for a pop up shop featuring discounted pieces from plus size faves like Torrid, Ava & Viv, Asos Curve, Lane Bryant, and more - including bags, jewelry, and shoes.  Also available were tumblers and mugs from The Golden Gurl and treats from Ginger and the Kid Sweets. 

I love leather and leather look pieces, so I had to have this pleather skirt.  I found it in Cat’s “costume/costume inspiration” section, but it’s definitely something I have been wearing just out and about.  And even to work.

Pleather skirt by Venezia Jeans I picked up at the Plus Size Pop Up.

Pleather skirt by Venezia Jeans I picked up at the Plus Size Pop Up.


ENVISION

Envision is the longest running fashion showcase in the Twin Cities, completing its eighteenth season at the end of Fashion Week Minnesota.  This season saw a more direct way to encourage interaction between attendees and artists – with the return of the Hotrocity pop up and a new artist designed washi tape photobooth with live photo editing. 

Photo by Alex Butterfield, editing by Allegra Lockstadt.

Photo by Alex Butterfield, editing by Allegra Lockstadt.

Live music was joined by live dance both during the pre-show party and at intermission, making the evening a full immersion in the creative community, very much thanks to art gallery and event partner Public Functionary.

This season was really exciting to me as it brought back menswear designers, saw the re-emergence of my favorite Minnesota designers (namely Tessa Louise and Caroline Hayden), and some fresh talents, including one I fell in love with at RAW Minneapolis’s EXPOSURE show in April – Form Over Function

Digging this menswear look by  Russell Bourrienne .

Digging this menswear look by Russell Bourrienne.

Look from Kjurek at Envision all 2015.

Look from Kjurek at Envision all 2015.

Months later and I’m still absolutely obsessed with this jacket from Form Over Function. 

Neoprene and patent jacket by Form Over Function.

Neoprene and patent jacket by Form Over Function.


All in all, the first FWMN brought an amazing new energy to the Twin Cities fashion scene that continued on through the next season.