Oleg Cassini once said, “Fashion anticipates, and elegance is a state of mind … a mirror of the time in which we live, a translation of the future, and should never be static.” Recently, I saw that quote unfold before my very eyes as I attended the Origins Fashion Show at the Minneapolis Hmong New Year. Each designer brought their own unique flare to the stage, but Mitsou Ly’s designs really caught my eye.
I won’t pretend to be up to date with the latest fashion trends, but I can appreciate a good clothing ensemble. As I watched the models ferociously represent Mitsou’s clothing line, I noticed that there was a simple elegance to her design. Nothing too flashy, but yet very appealing—and sexy. What woman wouldn’t want that? Mitsou first unleashed her brand of fashion at the Project Inspire Fashion Show by Model Me Mary in 2008. It was there the world got glimpse of what was to come. Since then, she continues to impress those who come in contact with her and her designs. I was fortunate to meet Mitsou and talk about her love of fashion and the triumphs and struggles that come along with it.
Ryan: I’m here with up and coming fashion designer Mitsou Ly. Mitsou, it’s a pleasure to have you apart of Hmoodle.com
Mitsou: Thanks for having me. I really enjoy your site.
Ryan: I recently saw your fashion up close and personal at the Origins Fashion show at the Metrodome New Year. How do you think it went?
Mitsou: I think it was exciting for everyone. I definitely enjoyed it. I’m glad the Hmong New Year was finally ready to recognize and support Hmong fashion designers. I think it definitely entertained the audience and I hope to see more designers being supported at all HNYs. I’ve had people from Sacramento tell me they wished they had fashion shows at their HNY.
Ryan: So, is it pretty nerve-wracking when it comes to participating in these fashion shows?
Mitsou: A little bit. I’m actually calm until my line actually gets on stage. That’s when I start to freak out a bit, but after the walk through, I’m satisfied and proud of the team, regardless of any mishaps.
Ryan: How many fashion shows have you participated in?
Mitsou: 2008 was my first year participating in fashion shows. I’ve only done two so far, which is Project Inspire Fashion Show hosted by Model Me Mary, and the recent Origins Fashion Show by the HNY.
Ryan: What goes into preparing for them?
Mitsou: A whole lot! I feel nerve-wrecked just thinking about it. It’s all about the details. Timing is everything. Planning a fashion show isn’t just like magic. There’s a lot going into it from picking the venue, to making copies. It truly takes a great team of volunteers to make it smooth. Each one is assigned to a certain group with specific duties. As a team member, it’s all about communication and making sure you deliver on your part. As a fashion designer, it’s not just about picking fabric, you have to think about how long it’ll take until you can start on the next outfit, and budgeting everything down to the materials. All the shows I’ve done, I have to give the biggest Thanks to the volunteers and assistants. Without them, it wouldn’t look like magic on stage.
Ryan: Let’s go back to when you were younger. Did you always have a fashion sense? When did you know that this was something you wanted to pursue and that it was going to be your passion?
Mitsou: It was actually through Princess coloring books that I found my love for designing as a kid. It was also from my mom. She’s always had a sense of style, and I sometimes sneak into her closet to pick out which outfits I hope to fit into one day. My dad was also artistic; I always copied off of his sketches. Growing up I didn’t take designing as seriously, because my dad had hoped that I’d take up a less risky career, but eventually he understood. When the runway channel came on he’d ask if I wanted watch it. It really helped that he showed support. My mom is also a seamstress and made clothes for me, my sister,
and our Barbie Dolls. So I guess you can say I grew up with a house full of creativity.
Ryan: Were there any particular fashion designs or designers that inspired you or that continue to inspire you today?
Mitsou: In high school, it was definitely Versace. I loved the versatility in their designs. From elegant red carpet gowns, to bold ready-to-wear designs. As for today, I have many favorite designers. I’m especially inspired by Couture designers such as John Galliano and Alexander McQueen. There is always a theatrical theme behind each of their runway events. They are definitely connoisseurs of thinking out of the box. Design these days doesn’t have to be just a catwalk, it can be theatre as well. I enjoy that they aren’t afraid to incorporate stories. They definitely challenge me to be more innovative with my designs.
Ryan: Do you primarily focus on women’s fashion or do you men’s fashion as well?
Mitsou: It is primarily for women. I tried creating something for my husband, but failed miserably. There’s just a sense of tailor-ship with menswear that you can’t just go about and whip it up. So I applaud those that do create menswear. I can design it, but I haven’t really taken it seriously with sewing. For now, I want to focus and develop in women’s. I do see menswear in the future, though.
Ryan: Is it difficult to remain unique and come up with designs that haven’t been done before?
Mitsou: It depends on the person, really. For me, I draw inspiration by thinking about where I can add the element to. Like, should I put the inspired element along the front, on the collar, or on the back? Just simple things like playing around with it. The most fun part is when you’re actually starting to sew and end up with a happy mistake. Sketching it is one thing, but sewing brings out a lot of fun surprises.
Ryan: What do you find most enjoyable about being in fashion design?
Mitsou: I enjoy that I get to express a side of myself through my designs. I enjoy all forms of art, but fashion is my medium for art. Designing is versatile, just as I am. I believe clothing is what we use to play up our personality, mood, or identity. It’s like our body is a canvas, and we get to paint it with our own unique styling. And I get to create pieces of that for people. The great part about designing is that the expressive creativity never ends.
Ryan: What goals have you set for yourself?
Mitsou: I hope to establish a name brand for myself one day. I plan on attending an apparel design college somewhere in Italy, Paris, or London. I would like to learn more from the Couture professionals. I would like to experience in New York as well. Hopefully one day get to show my line in Bryant Park. I mean, what designer doesn’t want that? In the meantime I enjoy the local fashion shows I’m a part of. I enjoy that it has helped inspire someone else to reach for their own goals.
Ryan: Just to go off subject for a moment, in your bio you mention that your husband is in the military. What’s it like to be a military wife?
Mitsou: Traveling is common. We move around a lot. You never know where you will get stationed next. When the orders come in, you have to pick up and go, even if you don’t like the place you end up in. You have to learn how to adapt to a new place and a change in lifestyle for the moment. It’s all about being open to new things, and being patient about it too. You definitely can’t be a military wife and a poor sport at
the same time. The one thing I’ve taken with me from military life is the many different people I’ve befriended and learned from. It’s a grateful experience. I am definitely proud to support our troops. Especially in this time and the events that occur, I greatly appreciate what our troops sacrifice for us.
Ryan: Where can our readers check out your fashion? Do you have any upcoming fashions shows?
Mitsou: You check out www.mitsouly.com, www.myspace.com/mitsouly, www.modelmayhem.com/mitsouly. These are my sites. As for fashion shows I’m currently involved in Project Inspire II which will be in MN during the summer/fall. Come out and support us fashion designers who are finally out of hiding!!
Ryan: Thank you so much for being apart of Hmoodle. Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Mitsou: Thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure. To readers, continue being true to your passion. Even, if others don’t understand it. Accomplish what matters to you.
Once again, I want thank Mitsou Ly for taking apart of Hmoodle. I had a great time at the Origins Fashion Show. I was greatly impressed by the pageantry of it all. Like Mitsou mentioned, it’s not just a fashion show, it’s an event. The models deserve a lot of praise as they sold each design as it were their own.
I look forward to seeing Mitsou’s career progress as she takes on the challenge of fashion design. Her raw talent ensures that she will be a lifelong member in the industry that is fashion. Keep an eye out for her, as her star is on the rise.
If you have any questions or comments about this article or would like to be featured on Hmoodle.com, then please feel free to email me at [email protected]