Left: Phuong My’s Spring Summer 2014 collection “Summer Scent”; Right: the designer. Credit: Phuong My

KUALA LUMPUR – You would never guess that Tran Phuong My is only 26 years old when browsing through her rack of Autumn Winter 2014 pieces on display at Mercedes Benz Stylo Asia Fashion Week (MBSAFW). Typical of an Autumn Winter collection, more sombre colours and outerwear dominates but the workmanship is impeccable – the standard of a master tailor – which is who Phuong My is.

I sat down with the young designer who was in Kuala Lumpur for MBSAFW 2014 that took place from October 20 to 22, 2014. Phuong My who is based mainly in New York spoke about the collection she would show on the runway, “The Autumn Winter 2014 collection is all about layers. First, we want to create a look for our woman that every time she puts on one piece, it looks like she’s wearing multiple layer pieces.”

Autumn Winter 2014 looks photographed at a fitting session. Credits: Phuong My

Phuong My showed me how, be it a dress or jacket, each piece has an inner and outer layer to give the illusion of layers without the bulk. She has created a complete look so the customer doesn’t have to look for other pieces to match. I am introduced to one of her favourites, a black luxe cashmere coat with a green drape panel that appears like a scarf but is actually part of the coat.

“Most of the coats are inspired by menswear with strong shoulders and an oversized fit so she feels warm and petite in winter. But the inside pieces like the dresses are still very feminine,” said Phuong My who is inspired by the Asian woman because “they always seem very strong for their family and husband. They take care of everything, they go to work and when they go home, they do housework but inside they are soft and sensitive.” It’s this big contrast that inspires the designer to create very soft, delicate, elegant and feminine inner pieces while the looks that go on top are stronger and more masculine.

Interestingly, the designer targets women from their 30s to 55-years-old as her audience. She explained, “She already knows what she wants in life and doesn’t try too hard because she has already achieved what she wants. She’s not confused, she’s very confident but she’s not at a young age, her body may not be as beautiful as when she was 18. Our cut hides that and still reveals the confidence and elegance of the woman of that age.”

Sorbet cocktails in pastel hues feature in Phuong My’s Spring Summer 2014 collection. Credit: Phuong My

You would think she had her hands full as a designer but Phuong My is also a stylist and often styles covers and spread for the Vietnamese editions of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. The styling experience has been beneficial to her own label too. “Obviously the connection is helpful. When I style for magazines, I learn the market of the industry I style for and why we have to do a certain theme for that market,” she said. On the flip side, she’s able to imagine through a stylist’s eyes how to style and to put together her own collections.

The 26-year-old is also an accomplished tailor who is able to create pieces that move like poetry and don’t restrict a woman does she goes about her day. Phuong My says, “Most of the cutting, I try to fit for the woman I have in mind. When I design, I don’t only think that she’s going to a party. But I will think, how is she going to the party, how would she sit and step out of her car, how would she take her first drink. Those [thoughts] would inspire the cutting of the collection. If she sits with one leg crossed, I want the fabric to fall down one leg elegantly. You wouldn’t want it so tight that she has trouble when she sits.”

Layered pants and sleeveless silk shirts juxtapose with mannish contours. Credit: Phuong My

This mature approach to design has resulted in gorgeous collections that has caught the eye of many fashion insiders. In less than two years of building her brand, Phuong My has been featured in international magazines like Vogue Italia and British Vogue and has established herself in Vietnam, Singapore, Shanghai, and Paris.

I would remember her name if I were you because Phuong My’s definitely a name to watch out for.

Shop Phuong My’s Spring Summer 2014 collection at Styled by Argent and Gnossem. For more information about Phuong My, go to www.phuongmy.com.