Nina’s Travels – Mui Ne

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Mui Ne Sunset

As most of you already know, all of my work is hand-crafted in beautiful Vietnam, my birthplace.  I have an office in Denver, CO and all of my jewelry is hand-made in Saigon.  I split half of my year in the states and half of the year in Vietnam.  I absolutely love to travel and find myself creatively inspired on all of my journeys.  This recent excursion was no exception.  While in Saigon I decided to treat myself to a quick weekend getaway in the gorgeous beach town of Mui Ne.

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Mui Ne Sand Dunes

Fifteen years ago Mui Ne was just a small, sleepy fishy town that was barely a blip on the map with only 25,000 residents.  Today it is a bustling resort town where you can find tourists swimming, surfing, sun-bathing, or shopping.  Kite surfing has recently become an avid pastime as well.  It’s been on my bucket list for a while and I’m so happy I made the trek out there last month.  Three hours and $6 (USD) on the bus will bring you this gorgeous stretch of beach, only 10 kilometers long.

 

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Crystal clear waters of Mui Ne

I went with one of my dear friends and our hotel was $20 (USD) or only $10 each!  That is the part I love about traveling in my home country, the cost of living is a dream.  Our hotel was super cute, low key, yet posh and situated right on the beach.  We also made sure to hit up Joe’s, The Art Café, a surfside restaurant that is the only establishment in town that stays open all year.  They have live music every evening.  It’s a perfect ending to a magical day, sitting outside slowly sipping on a beer while the sounds of crashing waves can be heard softly in the background to some chill local tunes.

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Kite surfing in Mui Ne

If you ever make it out this way, I highly recommend checking out The Fairy Stream.  This low water level stream has a soft current that allows for an adventure of discovery at any pace you choose.  You’ll find toddlers stop to stare and play in tidal pools, teenagers swimming, lovebirds sitting on a rock with their feet dangling in the water, but most of all you’ll find the peace and serenity you’ve been searching for.

 

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Calm, peaceful beach of Mui Ne

During this last excursion I felt a tremendous amount of pride for my country.  While I’m a dual citizen, it’s the heartbeat of Vietnam that stirs me and always offers tons of creative ideas.  I’m extremely proud of my Heirloom Collection which is a celebration of my heritage and hopefully embraces the beauty and magic of all lands far away.

 

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Nina Nguyen Designs, Heritage Collection

Nina Nguyen Aztec Earrings, 14kt, blue opal, moonstone

Opals – The Stone of Lightning

Boulder Opal

Boulder Opal

Originally opals were deemed as evil and bad luck. They were associated with sorcerers as they closely mimic the luminescence of cats’ and toads’ eyes. Over time the connotation for this precious gemstone shifted significantly. The Bedouins believed that opals arrived to us through thunderstorms as they had tiny bolts of lightening captured inside. I like this theory the best as you see flashes of light reflecting off the stone. Any of you fellow opal addicts know exactly what I mean! The Romans believed opals were the most powerful stone of all since they captured the rainbow of color found in all the existing stones. I believe, much like the Europeans, that opals are the stone of hope, purity and truth.

 

Nina Nguyen Aztec Earrings, 14kt, blue opal, moonstone

Nina Nguyen Aztec Earrings, 14kt, blue opal, moonstone

October’s birthstones happen to be two of my favorites: tourmaline and opal. I’ll be sharing more about the magic of tourmaline next week, but for now I’d like to focus on this stone of lightening. Not only are they gorgeous, but they happen to be one-of-a-kind. Boulder opals are a vibrant blue that mimic fingerprints in the sense that no two are ever alike.

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Nina Nguyen Calypso Earrings, silver, various opals

Birthstone gift giving is a tradition carries over from ancient times, when the metaphysical properties of stones were accepted as facts. Between then and now a lot of debate has raged on, hence the reason that you’ll often find not one, but two stones chosen for every month of the year.

 

Nina Nguyen Ambrosia Necklace, 14kt, blue opal

Nina Nguyen Ambrosia Necklace, 14kt, blue opal

No matter what you believe there is no denying that opals always capture your eye’s attention. Their glow is powerful, strong and never subtle. They make a perfect gift for an October baby or for anyone who loves the magic and power of beautiful jewelry.

Nina Nguyen Featured in INDESIGN April/March 2014

INSTORE Cover

GOLDEN BEGINNINGS: “I used to help my mother trade gold in our hometown of Pleiku, Vietnam. Every Sunday, my mother would set up her little table, and workers from the nearby river who’d panned for gold would line up to sell my mother the gold they had found. My uncle used to make the beautiful sparkly gold dust into rings. My job was to bike to the market to deliver the gold. The gold rings were fastened on a chain for me to easily disguise under my clothes. This was to evade the communists’ eyes and ears on my parents. Being able to work with my family is a major part of my jewelry designing process today.”

FAVORITE STONES: “Anything that is unique, mineral, fossilized and can’t be found in a traditional jewelry store. Right now, I am obsessed with druzy and geodes.” 

                         Maharani Wisdom Cuff

THE GREATER GOOD: “I think all products should be made in a manner that benefits everyone involved. I would love for my jewelry to help bring this message: That people should always be concerned with where the things they purchase come from, who made them, where the materials came from, how long will it last, and what will become of it when its life is over.”

DESIGN INSPIRATION: “I first experienced wisteria’s allure as a tourist traveling through Tokyo by bicycle. Pedaling a bicycle path completely surrounded by wisteria, I was immediately fascinated by the graceful purple blossoms cascading into view. Wisteria’s enduring beauty and charm will be represented in my spring 2014 collection.”

Wisteria Melody Necklette

Wisteria Melody Necklette

CELEBRITY CONNECTION:  “In 2013, Miranda Lambert wore our Audrey earrings in black druzy to the season premiere of THE VOICE. That was such a pleasant surprise! Her stylist contacted my PR firm, so I guess my unique design is being mentioned in the celeb stylist circle.”

STYLE EVOLUTION: “I think my work has evolved as my personal preferences evolved. The styling of my design has changed from having a more modern and minimal look to having a somewhat classic, heirloom look while retaining the composition of a modern material”

STANDING ON PRINCIPLE: “In 2009, my line was represented by a New York showroom. I was dealing with the constant pressure from department stores and buyers to produce cheaper products. I don’t know how I did it, but I walked away from some very large purchase orders to focus on bettering my designs. The biggest achievement of my career was when I learned to stay focused on what I do, who I am, who my audience is and what my brand represents.


Q & A  / Getting Personal with Nina Nguyen

WHAT IS ON YOUR MIND WHEN YOU ARE NOT DESIGNING? “Children of Vietnam project. I plan to bring my experience to assist with raising more funds and bringing awareness to the organization.”
WHAT CAN’T YOU RESIST BUYING WHEN OUT SHOPPING? “Is there a hotline for Shoeaholics Anonymous?”
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE VACATION SPOT AND WHY? “I moved to Boulder, Colorado a year ago. There is so much to do and it is always nice to wake up in my own bed since I am on the road so much.”
IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY OTHER CAREER. WHAT WOULD IT BE? “Eco-handbag or eco-apparel designer. Have you tried to look for eco-clothes? I could see myself taking an interest in this industry.”

Inside Spread

by INDESIGN Magazine 

 

Art Directors Club of Denver – 9th Annual Paper Fashion Show 2013

At Nina Nguyen Designs we are inspired by everything around us, but we truly love the idea of natural organic resources. We thrive on the idea of taking something so simple and making it into a work of art. The reach of creativity in design is awe-inspiring – while we see design every day in stones and metals this past weekend we got to see this extended into paper fashion!

The Art Directors Club of Denver held an amazing event March 8, 2013 for their 9th Annual Paper Fashion Show and we got to witness it all! This is the largest fashion show in the nation to feature paper as the material of each design. Not limited to fashion designers, entries came from artists of all varieties- hair and makeup, modeling talent, videographers, photographers, DJs, graphic designers, and even young and aspiring artists. Not only does this event promote and foster creativity, it donates parts of the proceeds to Downtown Aurora Visual Arts to provide after school art programs to at risk kids.
The talent that we were able to witness was astonishing; it ranged from experienced to aspiring designers as young as 9! Each design was more unique than the last  -and all the more impressive to realize it was all made of paper. From party dresses and ball gowns to costumes, all the creations were incredibly detailed and beautifully made.
Check out some pictures from this unique show!
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This earthy and raw dress depict the natural resources that the earth provides us in a fashion forward way as branches accent a beautiful and intricate paper dress. (left)  The 50s movie star style sparkling blue dress was designed and created by a one of the show’s youngest designer who is only 9 years old. This talented young designer took home 2nd place! (right)
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One designer made a paper twist of Little Red Riding Hood’s big bad wolf (top) and another received inspiration from the beautiful Dia De Los Muertos sugar skulls (bottom).

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This year’s winner stunned the crowd with its cloth like appearance. Designer Randall Bellows III took home first place prize,  for the 5th year in a row, for 300 hours and 60,000 paper dots used to create this amazing and patriotic dress. (left) Other designs including cupcake inspired dresses, swimsuits, and this unique outfit we know that Lady Ga Ga would love to strut around in! (right)Click here for more information on the Art Director’s Club of Denver Annual Paper Fashion Show.

Playlist Lookbook

Whenever you need some extra fashion inspiration, try creating a playlist of your favorite artists. Or, ask someone to introduce you to new music. Below are a few fall looks we put together, inspired by some of our favorite songs.

BB Dakota Lala Dress, Sigerson Morrison Booties, BauXo Belt.

This look mimics the wonderfully unpolished notes in “Skinny Love” while maintaining the understated beauty of Bon Iver’s most popular tune. The stripped-down acoustic style inspired this low-key, rustic, feminine look. Loose-fitting denim shirts and vintage booties balance the flouncy nature and girlish qualities of any floral dress. For those cooler fall nights try layering black leggings or wearing knee-high boots with the dress.

Click here to listen to “Skinny Love.”

Kain Tank Top, Roberto Cavalli Jeans, Sara Designs Watch, Ray Ban Sunglasses, Nina Nguyen Bella Necklace, Naturalizer Boots

When you want that extra boost in the morning to strut your stuff, make sure the Black Keys’ “Sinister Kid” is in your playlist. Buckled boots, embellished jeans, a simple tank, and heavy metal accessories are sure to make you walk tall. To go from fall to winter, add a chic bomber or leather motorcycle jacket.

Click here to listen to “Sinister Kid.”

Gucci Blouse, Alexis Bittar Ring and Bangles, Tory Burch Bag, J Brand Jeans

For a little more mystique in the 70’s inspired styles trending now, try doing them in dark neutrals with deep denim hues and edgy, modern accessories. This look, inspired by Florence + The Machine’s “Bird Song,” balances the whimsical beauty and minor notes of the song with the breezy top and edgy coloring. To go all out with the 70’s theme, pair with a hippie couture headband and platforms. To modernize the look, try it with skinny jeans and heels, boots or flats.

Click here to listen to “Bird Song.”

Frye Boots, Erdem Silk Blouse, Diesel Jeans, Maurices Ring, Lucky Brand Earrings

Blitzen Trapper’s music is a refreshing blend of folk and alternative. Their song, “Black River Killer” would be perfect for roadtrip through the Pacific Northwest. Embrace the rugged and natural landscape as a fantastic fall wardrobe inspiration: look comfortable and cool in distressed jeans and boots, unpolished jewelry, and an easy, flowy top. Keep the jeans on the skinnier side and the boots shorter so your legs don’t get overwhelmed by the baggier top.

Click here to listen to “Black River Killer.”

Juicy Couture Top, Rag & Bone Jeans, Bing Bang Studs, Jules Smith Bracelet, Marc Jacobs Bracelet, Diane Von Furstenberg Clutch

Sia’s quirky, unique, and colorful image is a perfect inspiration for fun weekend looks. Her song “The Co-Dependent” is irresistibly yummy music, with a bubbly beat perfect for getting in the groove with the neon accent trend. When incorporating this much color into an outfit, make sure to keep your jewelry and accessories neutral and simple. Later in the fall season, you can always opt for just one boldly-colored piece by swapping the top or bottom for a neutral.

Click here to listen to “The Co-Dependent.”