Over the weekend I had the privilege of attending the launch of a highly anticipated self-titled clothing line, NINH, by Ninh Nguyen of New York. Even before seeing the clothes, meeting the models, watching the dressers and make-up artists pull everything together, I knew it was going to be good. The venue was a sprawling, bright, white, 10,000 sq ft photography studio located in the notorious meatpacking district with ceiling height windows overlooking the Hudson River. It was 3 hours before the show was scheduled to start but staff and volunteers were already busy with preparations. Gift bags are being stuffed, make-up artists set up their stations, clothes are steamed, and phenomenal artwork inspired by the NINH line are hung on the walls.
The models start streaming in. They are all dressed very casual, but look slightly nervous (being on the runway during New York Fashion Week is a privilege, afterall), and so, the transformation begins. Make-up artists whip out kits provided by Emani Minerals and get to work. After seeing the first model’s hair and makeup completed, NINH’s vision is starting to come to life. After hair and makeup is complete, the models head over to the dressers. Pictures of each model are taped next to their outfits on racks that line one side of the studio. Suave, yet still rugged dress shoes, tucked below each one. A trail of steam is a consistent presence as dressers hustle and bustle to make sure every wrinkle is removed, and blazers and dress shirts are pressed to perfection. After the models are dressed, the atmosphere changes. The models have morphed into confident, polished, sophisticated and worldly men in my eyes, and my camera becomes drawn to them. At this moment, a quote from his press release instantly jumps into my mind: “When I design, I don’t design for a trend, or for just any man. I design for the modern day renaissance man. Someone who is confident, intellectual, open minded, cultured and passionate. I have put all of these elements into my clothing and when this man wears it, this man feels complete”.
It’s now 5:45p and the show starts in 15 minutes. The DJ sets up his equipment and begins playing music perfectly suited to the venue and the NINH line- melodic ambient music punctuated with rhythmic beats that you just can’t help feeling good to. No mainstream bubblegum bullshit here. Guests start arriving. As they hang their coats, you can tell they are as sophisticated, intellectual and as worldly as the clothes they have come to see. Wine and beers in hand, they browse unique prints hung on the walls, all to be auctioned off with 100% of the proceeds going towards Child Education International and Hope for the Silent Voices.
The show is beginning, and I promptly take the best seat in the house – on stage, next to the DJ where I can snap unobstructed photos of the models, and everybody in attendance. The models take the stage and camera flashes fill the room. NINH’s line does not disappoint. Everybody’s eyes are fixated on the clothes. The men in the room are staring at the clothes, almost daydreaming, perhaps imagining the sleek dress shirts or exquisitely tailored blazers with utilitarian flare in their own closets. The women in the room, perhaps wishing the men in their lives were so aptly dressed as the models. It is almost a shame to call NINH’s line ‘clothing’, for they are much, much more than that. It is a lifestyle, a mentality, pieces of wearable, functional art. I have never before wished so much for winter to come sooner.
*Special Guestblog + Photography by Selina Chan*
More photos here