Chatting with Fashion Designer Jacky Tài

by : Dunkine N.

It has been a while since the Vietnamese community through many performances and shows has become familiar with fashion designer Jacky Tai, known for his exotic creations. We had the rare chance to visit him at his studio and retail shop “Jacky Tai Bridal and Fashion” located in Westminster, California. Sitting in the elegant parlour of his shop, we had the pleasure of chatting with Jacky about his difficult journey to establish himself in the current fashion industry.

PM: Can you tell us when you officially began your journey in Fashion?

JT: I satarted my studies as a Pre-Med student hoping for a career in medicine. Somehow in my second year, I had the epiphany that this isn’t what I wanted. From a young age, I had always been interested in the Arts, the creative world.

At 8 yrs. old I was making outfits and clothing for my Barbie dolls and selling them to the locals. I became interested in other art forms as I grew older, singing, dance. I studied various styles of dance, Jazz, Swing, Tap dance. I even got a sholarship to study Ballet, but I declined. I even tried modeling for a time. It was when I decided to study fashion, I really felt an attraction. I knew these were the classes I wanted, I was drawn.

I came with two empty hands, with nothing. It was difficult in the beginning. My family tried to convince me to follow a different profession. I remember moving to California with my partner. We had exactly $1000 between us to survive and start a career.

While old classmates and friends were achieving success, becoming doctors, pharmacists, I was struggling with my dream. I have never thought to chase this profession for notoriety. I only want to do what I love, and not be restricted. Even though it was hard, I was determined, stubborn even. I refused to give up, I wanted to prove to everyone that I could do it.

PM: And today having opened Jacky Tai Bridal and Fashion, the largest retailer of Vietnamese Bridal Fashion in Orange County, can you tell us more about this victory?

JT: About 3 years ago, my partner and I were operating a smaller retail space, but because of the volume of clients requesting my Ao Dai designs as Bridal dresses, they asked why I didn’t include Bridal fashion as a Collection. It’s been about 5 months now that we’ve opened the new space, and business has been doing well. I didn’t expect the massive support from friends, clients and happy brides willing to spread through word of mouth. I also contributed to the music label giants like Asia, Paris By Night, Van Son and was asked to exhibit my collections in many events all over. Even my mom was proud. To have endured through hardships and trials, I didn’t let my family down.

PM: As a Vietnamese designer, how do you feel about the Vietnamese Ao Dai and what is the special element that distinguishes your collection?

JT: I studied dressmaking with Kim Cuong in Viet Nam. She makes beautiful dresses, often for celebrities of Cai Luong such as Tai Linh and Huong Lan.

Her technique is ingenious. I studied under her for 2 months, just to learn how to cut the Ao Dai form. While the Ao Dai seems relativley simple; finding the right technique, an original custom cut, requires a lot of hours and strategy. Vietnamese women tend to be smaller in frame or petite, but in a proper Ao Dai, the transformation is glamourous. That is because when you make an Ao Dai, every detail must be precise, attention to what needs to be lessened, what should be enhanced, so that the look is specific and custom to each individual. I don’t use a lot of stiffer materials. I’m drawn to the lighter, softer fabrics: chiffons, embroidery, in my own imagination, so that when compared to the work of another designer, most people can still recognize my work.

PM: You contributed to the recent Viet Fashion Week , Can you tell us a little about the Jacky Tai Collection from the show?

JT: I’ve collaborated with Viet Fashion week for the last 4 years, from the very beginning. Every year I want a very special collection to exhibit. I love the work, it took 2 months to prepare. This year I chose a slightly different theme for my collection; it is titled “Evolution”. I love Science Fiction movies, Post-Apocalyptic , after the end of civilization: now what? For this collection I used a lot of blacks, silvers, metallics, whites, and a dark palette: images like wings of metal to depict the evolution of the human race in an entirely new world. There were cocktail dresses, full length gowns, jumpsuits, all different to be worn by a diverse set of models.

PM: What are your plans, dreams for the future?

JT: I dream of creating a brand for the American Fashion Industry, exhibit my collections for the American consumer. Now or in time, I will achieve my dream.

PM: Thank You Jacky. We wish you much success and as always, “Never give Up”!

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