Found by the Spanish husband and wife team of Diego Cortizas and Laura Fontan, Chula Fashion embodies everything the couple loves about the people, food, art and culture of their home base of Hanoi where they’ve lived since 2004. “Chula is our life. It’s not just about fashion,” says Diego. “Fashion is just an excuse to learn more about the country you’re in, your environment, and to get to know more about yourself.”
Chula Fashion has also enabled the couple to work with a number of people with disabilities, all starting with a serendipitous meeting with a deaf woman. “When you start to work with someone with a disability, you start to realize that everybody has some kind of disability,” says Diego. For them, it was not being able to speak Vietnamese. “So for us to learn sign language was natural.”
Diego borrows from his background in architecture to design bold prints and patterns based on geometrics as well as more traditional Vietnam-inspired motifs, using sumptuous silks, linens and wool to create dresses, jackets, shirts, and other garments for men and women.
The Chula look is all about mixing the modern with the traditional, while staying true to its distinctly Vietnamese roots. Diego also likens the ethereal nature of fashion to the mapping out of clouds, a continual process of trying to define and reinvent beauty.
As part of the Fall/Winter 2018 collection, Chula has unveiled a series of gorgeous wool jackets and coats, injecting some much-needed color to the grey skies over Hanoi. Even darker backgrounds receive pops of color through geometric patchwork or intricate embroidery.
A signature of Chula collections are elements of whimsy, drawing inspiration from everything ranging from David Bowie to food menus to Vietnamese symbols. However, the luxe handmade garments with a European flair are hip enough to blend in anywhere in the world while still subtly showcasing endearing elements of Vietnam.
In addition to Spain and Thailand, four Chula stores can be found in Vietnam – in Hanoi, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City (at 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, D2). The Chula Fall/Winter Collection is available in Vietnam at their Hanoi shops (27 Nha Chung and 43 Nhat Chieu) as well as online at www.chulafashion.com.
Models: Katerina Lamteva, Yen Tran, Elvira Utyagulova
Photographer: Diego Chula