Sacramento City College graduate Quynhnhu Nguyen’s collection, “Entropy,” recently won first place at the college Fashion Department’s annual fashion show. She also won in the Most Marketable category at American River College’s fashion show in 2017 with her collection called “Controlled Chaos.” As suggested by the dark, moody, urban style of both collections, Nguyen is intrigued by fluctuations of emotions and how slivers of optimism and hope can be found in the darkest of places. We asked her a few questions about herself and what inspires her.
Please tell us about your experience at SCC. When did you start and why?
My experience at SCC started in 1998. My firstborn was three years old and I just received my GED. I didn’t want to be a waitress all of my life so I decided to go to college and do something better with my life. My mom also drilled it into my brain that I had to go to college and I was floating in the sea of academia for a good while before I found out what I truly enjoyed doing.
How did you become interested in Fashion? Did you have any fashion or design experience prior to SCC?
I wasn’t interested in fashion until I took my first sewing class with Prof. Giovannetti back in 2013. I was a Biology major and focusing on taking courses to get into the Nursing program. I couldn’t get into one of my science classes so I decided to take a sewing class. My mother has an AA in Fashion Design from West Valley College and she would make me fix my own clothes and help her sew basic shirts and pants when I was a child but I wanted to learn from the beginning. The course was fun for me, we started out with basic sewing stitches and learned to make potholders, a drawstring bag and an apron or bag. I ended up making two aprons, one was simple and the other one was a reversible one.
How would you describe your general aesthetic?
My general aesthetic is applying the skills I have learned and allowing myself to be creative with my designs from concept idea to the final product. I love to challenge myself with new ideas and playing around with techniques that I have not worked with before. I like classic designs with a play on my own interpretation of current styles.
What is the concept behind your designs that ended up winning the grand prize at the fashion show? Is there a story to the designs? Where did you draw inspiration? Did you have a goal in mind when conceptualizing these designs?
I express visual story with my collection. I had just won the Most Marketable category with my Controlled Chaos collection from ARC in 2017 and I wanted to showcase the Entropy collection at SCC the following year. Both collections were about an array of emotions that I was experiencing during my journey. The idea was to tell a story of how emotions always fluctuate and that one moment you are feeling all of these negative emotions and the next you are calm and rational. I worked with real leather, lace and textured fabrics. Four pieces were mainly black with hints of white which was my color story of how dark my emotions were with hints of white which represents serenity and hope. The middle garment was a simple A-line dress which was color block with diagonal seams and a square neckline. The bodice was made out of corded lace and the skirt was a black and white woven wool textile. The white was more pronounced and evoked innocence. The Entropy collection focuses on the strong sensual female. My goal is to have my client feel empowered and beautiful when they wear my designs.
Do you remember the first thing you designed?
The first thing I designed was a tote bag. I created a basic pattern by analyzing the paper bags at the grocery store and drafted a paper pattern to use as my template. I’ve come a long way from that project.
You graduated in the spring. How did that feel? What did it mean for you?
It felt awesome. It took me over twenty years off and on being in college. I was thrilled to be sitting with the graduating class of 2019 along with my peers. It was a difficult journey struggling to finish college with the demands of life. I say, “Better later than never.” Graduating from the Los Rios Community College District meant that I had the power to showcase my skills and creativity because I was tenacious with my studies and I discovered that I also loved to teach other students who wanted to experience what the Fashion Programs had to offer.
When you think of your future, what do you see yourself doing next year? Five years from now? 10 years from now?
I plan to teach in the future. I have been a teacher’s assistant for three years and I plan on applying for an Instructional Assistant job and gain more experience. After that, I would love to get accepted into the Faculty Diversity Internship Program and become an adjunct professor at LRCCD. I have met so many wonderful people along my journey and I plan on networking and reaching out to explore the fashion industry, the art industry and our community. I’ve been working on a community project with the fashion club called Hopefull Totefull where we would make tote bags for first time chemotherapy patients from Sutter Memorial Hospital. We have donated over one hundred totes so far so I would love to have a chance to expand on that project.