By: Kathy Mouacheupao
Friday, October 7, 2011 – Minneapolis, MN The Center for Hmong Arts and Talent (CHAT) held the Fresh Traditions V Fashion Show (FTV) at the beautiful McNamara Alumni Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. FTV is an annual fashion show featuring all Hmong fashion designers and Asian models.
Each designer is given creative control over their collections, with one exception. Because there is little documentation as to why the unique palette of traditional Hmong fabrics were used, designers are challenged to make sense of the traditional fabrics in today’s contemporary world.
They are all required to design at least one full outfit using a combination of the 5 Hmong fabrics: black satin, black velvet, neon green chiffon, florescent pink chiffon and a royal blue satin.
As the doors opened at 6pm, the line at the entrance quickly filed out into the hallway and the room filled with excitement and curiosity for this year’s 5 featured designers. With only an hour left before the show, attendees were entertained by DJ Luchie’s music spinning in the background.
Originally published in 18XEEM, April 2008, Issue 04
Do your designs have any functions/unique aspects to it?
Hmong Reinvented is a fashion line that represents and bridges the gap between being Hmong and being American. In my designs I use Hmong embroidery with western silhouettes. I want to make wearing Hmong clothes fashionable. My motto is: Forget about the layers, the heavy money belts and bags. Keep it simple and chic.
How long does it take you to finish one piece?
Depending on how complicated the garment can get and how much time I have to work on it, it could take a few days up to a month.
You know that time of the year when your mom pulls out the luggage of clothes she’s packed away for a year? You know what I’m talking about, the heavy luggage that you secretly hoped had miraculously disappeared in the closet or under the bed? Yes, it’s Hmong New Year and you feel obligated to wear the heavy, burdensome clothes again. We’ve all been there, it doesn’t matter if you’re Green, White, Striped, Black Hmong, or etc. We all go through the same process –the hours of getting everyone dressed and the madness of the mess afterwards. Wouldn’t it just be easier if we could have something simple and fashionable? In answer to that question I created Hmong Reinvented.
Hmong Reinvented is my fashion line of traditional Hmong costumes with a western touch. In keeping with tradition, I left as much of the original silhouette as I could, altering the neckline, the sleeves, the skirt and the layers as I went. In the end we have garments that are clearly Hmong, but very sexy and easy to wear. Not only have I updated traditional Hmong costumes, but I am also putting a little bit of Hmong into ready-to-wear garments.
There are a variety of styles that exist today in Hmong clothing. This can make it complicated when choosing what to wear and what not to wear for a Hmong New Year or any event that has to do with the culture. Thanks to a talented graphic designer, HleeX, we’re able to bring you simplified illustrations of a select few versions of these garments. We found these pieces to be most common among Hmong fashion and stripped them down to the most basics to let you know how essential they are in making the complete “Hmong” outfit for both males and females!
Next time you go to a New Year, don’t be caught wearing American clothing!