Spanish designers fuse Latin colors with Vietnamese grace

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Spanish designers Laura Fontan and Diego Cortizas pose with a Chula's collection. Photo: Chula Blog

A Spanish husband and wife duo are putting Latin colors on Vietnamese materials as they seek to develop their fashion brand in the country.

Laura Fontan and Diego Cortizas arrived in Vietnam in 2004 with no intention of staying long. But stay they did and establish the now popular brand Chula, which means "beauty" in Spanish.

The couple have a passion for Vietnamese materials, and their women's fashion brand focuses mainly on dresses made from silk, "an elegant and beautiful material."

They use bright colors redolent of Spain or Mexico and in a contrasting manner.

"We found that we could develop a line of design that combines the best of the east and the west," Fontan says in an interview posted on their blog, Chula.

The brand is becoming better known in Vietnam and has been present at a number of fashion shows, including some major recent ones like the 2012 Spring-Summer Fashion Week and Vietnam Fashion Week.

"This is very exciting for us and challenging to work with the new generation of Vietnamese designers," Fontan says.

After teething troubles in a new country, the couple quickly became familiar with many kinds of silk.

Most people now refer to Chula as a Vietnamese fashion brand since it is based in Vietnam, uses Vietnamese materials, and targets Vietnamese customers.

But it has also become popular elsewhere for its unique style, which Fontan describes as "smart but with a sense of humor."

The products are "designed for what we'd like to call the "˜Chula woman'," she says.

"A Chula woman is someone with attitude, someone who is not a slave to trends and fashion magazines."

Cortizas says his knowledge of architecture, sculpture, graphic design, and painting helps him a lot in designing clothes, each of which he hopes will carry a story.

The Economy Minister of Spain Elena Salgado wore Chula dresses to different political events last year, including the Congress of the Deputies, and the European Summit.

Mariela Besuievski, a Spanish actress and film producer, also wore one of the couple's dresses to the 2011 European Film Awards.

Chula dresses cost US$200-500, and can be found at the couple's boutique at 6 Ven Ho Tay near the West Lake in Hanoi.

They are sold in 10 other countries including Singapore.

Customers at the Hanoi boutique can also take a tour through the design process, from the sketches to the patchwork techniques and the final product.

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