Award Citation

Ms. Minh Hanh, a leading fashion designer in Vietnam, produces contemporary fashion design based on her deep insight of the many ethnic cultures in Vietnam. Her works fuse ao dai and time-honored embroideries and fabrics inherited among Vietnamese ethnic minorities. At the same time, she organizes various fashion shows and other cultural events inside and outside Vietnam. Moreover, she is committed to developing young designers, apparel markets, and the fashion industry, thereby significantly contributing to the creation of elegant costumes unique to Asia.

Born in 1961 in Pleiku (central Vietnam), Ms. Minh Hanh moved to Hue, Da Nang, and Saigon in the vortex of the Vietnam War. Amid the intensifying warfare, she always found herself surrounded by colorful costumes of various ethnic minorities. As a child, she began making dresses for her dolls. When she was only 11 years old, she sewed her school uniform of ao dai. After graduating from Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts University in 1983, she joined a newspaper company as an illustrator. She exhibited her exceptional talent in fashion design when she was engaged in the planning and editing of a fashion newspaper. Following introduction of the Doi Moi Policy (economic and social reforms) in 1986, she became involved in the management of the Legamex Fashion Center, the first fashion institute in Vietnam. This experience led her to develop her career in the area of fashion design. In addition to creative activities, she worked to establish the Vietnam Fashion Week and Vietnam Collection GranPrix with the aim of fostering young designers and developing the fashion market further in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, she has revived traditional Vietnamese craft industries, such as silk weaving, by adopting their products into her own works. In her designs, she adopts embroidery and fabrics that have been passed on for generations among ethnic minorities, while concurrently employing bold and modern color palettes and design compositions. Rather than simply inheriting traditional designs, Ms. Minh Hanh produces a wide variety of her original works by fairly evaluating traditional Vietnamese costumes and craftworks and relativizing them to the overwhelming influence of Western fashion.

In recognition of her outstanding achievements, in 1997 she was honored with the Special Award in Asia Collection, Makuhari, Japan, which was the first international competition that she joined. In 2002, she produced a fashion show held at the royal palace in Hue, which was Vietnam’s first World Heritage site inscribed. Currently, she serves as Senior Advisor and Art Director for Art Programs at the Hue Festival and the Hue Traditional Craft Festival. In 2003, she also organized the Ao Dai Collection at Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto, Japan on the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Vietnam. In 2006, she received the Award of Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the Government of France. To introduce attractive features of Vietnamese fashion and culture to the world, she continues to organize many fashion shows in various parts of the world, particularly in Asia, North America, and Europe. In addition, representing Vietnamese designers, she designed cabin attendants’ uniforms for Vietnam Airlines, and the costumes for national leaders at the meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), held in Vietnam in 2006.

While engaged in creative activities that proudly represent traditional Vietnamese culture with contemporary sensitivities, Ms. Minh Hanh has also been committed to fostering young designers. Her contribution to the development of Asian fashion culture is truly worthy of the honor of the Arts and Culture Prize of the Fukuoka Prize.

With her 80-year-old mother
With the president of Gattinoni and Vietnamese Embassador in Rome, Feb 2014
With young designer visiting Katsu minority in Aluoi province,Hue, Jan 2015