Tell us about the journey that leads you to launch your brand, Yvette LIBBY N’guyen Paris?
I was born in Vietnam in a small village near Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city). I grew up in a household that believed fashion was vanity, and when I started sketching a lot and dressing up my dolls and even my cat, my parents weren't happy. They wanted me to spend more time reading and studying to become a businesswoman, rather than becoming a couturier or a designer.
For my family, I gave up making clothes and studied business, hiding my passion for fashion. I went on to study business in Singapore, Japan, and the U.S., while doing part-time jobs in fashion. It wasn't until I worked for an international pharmaceutical company in Vietnam that I really thought twice about my fashion dream.
At the same time, by coincidence, I found a photo of a young mixed-race girl in my family photos. My grandma told me that “the girl” was my great-grandma, Yvette N’guyen and she was a couturier while adding that the family weren't proud of her story and that I should ignore it.
After quitting my job at the pharmaceutical company, I spent the next 11 years starting over, learning and working in every corner of fashion. I studied fashion at CNAM (Conservatoire national des arts et métiers) and ESMOD Paris, and in 2016, I launched Yvette LIBBY N’guyen Paris.
How do you want people to feel when they wear your designs?
Nostalgic and gender-fluid.
My mom worked for a local theatre and cinema when I was a kid, and I grew up following her to work and watching movies for free on a giant vintage screen while waiting for her to finish her work.
I watched movies from everywhere - Vietnam, Hong Kong, Japan, China to the US, Mexico, and France. I couldn’t understand most of the movies at that age, but I was fascinated by the outfits and costumes. That kicked off my passion for costume design.
What interested me in the costumes was how they portrayed the different characteristics and even the destinies of the characters wearing them. That motivated me to learn more about costumes and I believe that everyone also has his own “costume” nowadays, in this cinema of life.
When fashion is gendered, it does not allow you to choose according to the silhouette you want but according to the ones you are offered. By re-examining this code, Yvette LIBBY N’guyen gives our clients the freedom to adopt the line in the way they want, allowing them to be themselves. This is why a large part of the range qualifies as unisex pieces.
Looking back since launching the business, is there anything you would do differently?
We would have communicated about the sustainability in fashion much more.
Sustainability might be a buzzword, but at Yvette LIBBY N’guyen we've followed the motto of being ecologically friendly and ethical from the very beginning. If it’s not, we have no motivation to go further.
It is simply about respect - for people and their living environment, and we can’t ignore it.
This is why most of the techniques we use allow us to reduce the impact of the manufacture of clothes from using natural dyes to natural and organic fibres, such as hemp, cotton and linen, as well as using dormant stocks. All of our buttons are also made from natural shells and horns.
Yvette LIBBY N'guyen also donates revenue each year to local and international non-profit organisations to support their green planet projects.
Who’s involved in the business and what are their roles?
We also believe that the human link is essential in the quality of the finished product and that is why Yvette LIBBY N'guyen opened its own clothing workshop in Vietnam (Saigon). We ensure that working conditions are above the country's standards, and we fully support all members of the company. They are often the ones who propose solutions during manufacture, to solve the technical problems encountered.
They also guarantee an impeccable finish and the most pleasant wearing possible.
Talk us through an average day in your life…
Wake up in the middle of the sleep during midnight and do the sketch. Or I would forget it in the next morning.
I'm a daydreamer. That’s what most of my friends say about me. I could drink hot chocolate in a café in Paris today and imagine what was happening at this place in the 1920s.
Vietnam and France had a connection during wartime, and in some Vietnamese vocabularies, we use only French. I’ve always sensed this connection from my family culture and business, and I've felt a responsibility to Paris, to experience the life of my great-grandma as a daydreamer. I can’t help it, I have a nostalgic feeling in my blood.
What do you do when you are lacking creativity?
A good sleep always helps!
What is your go-to quote when lacking motivation?
Living the game, deal with what is dealt.
“Life is like a game of Poker: you have to play the hand you’re dealt. The wise player can play a weak hand and win the game” - Rick Warren clearly stated. The independent soul knows how to deal with his circumstance: whatever cards he gets - it’s the winning hand. As this Poker philosophy touches countless minds, the manifesto also inspires living the present. Regardless how the situation is dealt, life is our Poker game to play - and to win.
Our readers love to travel, what destination is on your must visit list?
What does self-care mean to you?
Know what you really want and be surrounded by people who know themselves very well.
Where do you see the brand in the next 5 years?
To keep our DNA in this complex society - by being retro-cool, unisex and eco-friendly, while also promoting the message of 'buy less and buy more quality'.
We've also just kicked off the 'Yvette Community' campaign to support and promote more artists from different industries, such as music, dance, and painting, to showcase hidden talents to a wider audience.
Where can people find out more?
Our website: www.yvettelibby.com
Our boutique in Paris: 9 rue Commines, 75003, Paris, France
Facebook: Yvette LIBBY N’guyen Paris
And you are always welcomed to sit down and talk to us via a cup of tea, or a glass of champagne ☺.