Wolfsonian art director Mylinh Trieu Nguyen was profiled in Glamour magazine’s October issue, as part of its inaugural fashion column focusing on workwear. The article spurred a discussion with Nguyen on the intersection of fashion and design, and on items in The Wolfsonian’s collection that inspire her.
Q: What is your fashion style?
A: It’s a mix between the movie The Matrix and the 1980s Italian design group Memphis. Some days I prefer blacks and neutrals or clothes with an interesting shape or pronounced structure. I've always loved Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons, and Maison Martin Margiela for this reason. On other days, more often now since moving to Miami, I like bright colors and patterns that vibrate when paired together. Delpozo, Kenzo, Dries Van Noten, and Acne resonate. I'm finding that the push and pull between the two styles and being in such a tropical environment has made for an interesting and exciting time for experimenting with my wardrobe.
Q: What is your design aesthetic?
A: I love art and design that can change the way we see and interpret the world. Whether it is a subtle gesture or a hyperbolic interpretation, the way in which designers are able to continually contribute unique perspectives of the everyday is inspiring. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by the objects of these interpretations at The Wolfsonian.
Q: What are some of the items in the collection that inspire you? (Note: images of the items mentioned accompany this article.)
A: There are so many! Here are some favorites.
Within the first weeks of being at The Wolfsonian, I discovered these beautiful pochoirs (hand-painted stencils) from the 1920s. It was amazing to see such vibrant and saturated colors preserved so beautifully. The patterns themselves felt very contemporary, mixing florals with checkers or geometric backgrounds.
Staccato: A New Cheney Creation
These are the first words of the portfolio Staccato: A New Cheney Creation: “Under the influence of the present day painters, – and inspired by them, I have endeavoured to create new materials…Then, appropriate surroundings had to be found, where dazzling fantasy would find complete expression…The beach seemed to meet all my requirements for a natural simplified background. The brilliance, the richness of the materials would be glorified in the bright sunshine near a shimmering sea.”
What initially drew me to this portfolio was the typography on the cover. The reference to art deco gave me some idea of what to expect, but what I uncovered was far more breathtaking. One after the next, illustrations of women, poised with great confidence, wearing bright dresses, pantsuits, and robes with bold and often lyrical patterns on them.
Women at Work
I am drawn to the boldness of the design with the repetition of shadow and pattern in this cover of the pamphlet Women at Work.
Bottom (click to enlarge):
Portfolio, Floréal: dessins & coloris nouveaux [Floral: New Designs and Colors], c. 1920
E. A. Séguy, designer
Éditions A. Calavas, Paris, publisher
21 5/8 x 15 3/8 in
The Wolfsonian–FIU, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection, 87.1583.2.1