Handcrafted on the Mekong

by James

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We concluded our excursion on the Mekong with visits to many hard-working families that use local materials to produce a variety of handicrafts and home essentials. Echoing Nina’s combination of focus and creativity, these often women-led businesses demonstrated a relaxed spirit of entrepreneurial enthusiasm.

In fact, I later learned why it was common to see so much self-starting industriousness throughout my travels in Vietnam—95% of Vietnamese support capitalism, by far more than any other country (including the USA) surveyed by the Pew Research Center. With careful planning by our guide, we took to the canals and paths of Tân Phong island and nearby areas to meet as many of these women as we could.

 

Starting by sampan (flat bottomed small wooden boat), we cut through a lush section of Tân Phong to see the first shops before switching to bikes to complete our tour. Among the reed hat makers, tapioca-derived lacework artisans, hanging basket weavers, and others, my favorite was the ease with which a woman could carry on a casual conversation with Nina while also swiftly thatching a roof panel from nipa palm and the comradery among those selling beautiful baskets made from water hyacinth. While I didn’t bring home any thatch roofing, my daughters do now delight in having a sampan-shaped hyacinth basket to display geodes and other little travel treasures.

 

We also passed by many of the larger businesses along the main tributary of the Mekong. Sunday morning activity was light, but the size and number of the operations displayed the productivity of the region. The most notable buildings to any river traveler are the beehive-shaped earthen kilns rising dozens of feet above the banks of the river. Fed by massive baskets of rice hulls, these ovens typically dry bricks but also the pottery commonly seen throughout Saigon and further afield.

 

As our guide directs our boat to Vinh Long for the shuttle back to Saigon, we take with us an increased appreciation for the favors, sights, and people of the Mekong Delta. Seeing Nina’s team produce her stunning vision of the Mekong collection reminds me that Saigon is reflection of its place in the Mekong Delta.

 

 

Wisteria is Blooming in Nina Nguyen’s Newest Collection

8424 Hi ResWhile winter snow is still falling, Nina Nguyen Designs is already in bloom with the new Spring 2014 collection “Wisteria”.

With its vibrant hues couples with delicate whites and earthy greens, the Wisteria Collection manages to capture the romance and whimsy of its namesake’s flowers.

Nina first experienced Wisteria’s allure as a tourist, traveling through Tokyo by bicycle. Pedaling through a path completely surrounded with Wisteria, Nina was immediately fascinated with the graceful purple blossoms cascading into view. In her Spring 2014 collection, Nina celebrates Wisteria’s enduring beauty and charm.

WISTERIA How To Wear Edited

Just six of the many ways to wear Wisteria

Inspired by the flower, Nina crafted a timeless hybrid between a necklace and a bracelet – called a Necklette – that can be worn to match the wearer’s style and mood. Nina’s Necklette is incredibly versatile, whether worn as one long strand, double wrapped as a necklace, or wound around the wrist as a bracelet. The beads in the strands are made of variety of natural stones, including Amethyst, Moonstone, Green Agate, Blue Lapis and Chrysoprase.

Like Wisteria vine, Nina’s Necklettes can be wound and woven for a formal look or casually draped for a completely different feel. In addition to the wistful climbing ‘vine’ Necklettes, Nina’s spectacular Druzy Enhancers drape like wisteria’s vivid blossoms.

The druzy stones used in Nina’s Enhancers are formed naturally, over millions of years, as quartz crystals inside or on top of other stones. Complimenting the varied colors of Wisteria, the Enhancers come in 4 shades with fun names like Kyoto Blush and Tokyo at Midnight. The Enhancers are designed to be paired with a Necklette, whether worn as a necklace or a bracelet.

The result is a collection that is timeless in its appeal, with pieces that can be worn season after season, and evolve to remain always fashion-forward.

Read the Press Release 

Behind the Scenes with Nina Nguyen: 2014 Photoshoot

Take a behind the scenes look of Nina Nguyen’s 2014 photoshoot with talented photographer, Joanna Kustra. Nina’s recent trip to London resulted in this amazing video highlighting Nina Nguyen’s Spring 2014 Wisteria Collection.

Photographer:
Joanna Kustra 

Models:
Marina Voroninia
Abigail Gotts

Hair and Makeup:
Magdalena Tucholska
Aga Borowa

Wardrobe:
Magda Bryk

Photo Assistant:
Angellika Adamczyk

Video:
Tracer Ital