"To me, sometimes beauty lies in the imperfections of small details that may not be perfectly crafted, but create a unique characteristic. It could be a monolid on an East Asian face, some smudged ink on an illustration, a slightly faded leather on an unnamed bag,..."
In the fields of art and design, Ly Truong (Foxtly) is no longer an unfamiliar name. She is most famous for her role as a Fashion Illustrator and a series of artistic drawings on her personal page.
Before returning to Vietnam to live and work in 2017, Ly Truong spent a long time as a Senior Concept Designer in Canada. At the time of her return, the design and creative industry was still quite new, but according to her, there were 'many potentials and opportunities.' Since then, Ly Truong has been chosen by many big brands to collaborate on numerous high-quality projects both domestically and internationally.
Passii had a conversation with Ly Truong to learn more about her work as well as her lifestyle and fashion style as a strong-willed girl.
Could you introduce yourself to Passii's readers?
My real name is Truong Trang Ly. Currently, I am an Art director/Illustrator working in Saigon. In a nutshell, my job is mainly about drawing and directing the design and image direction. I am the kind of person who likes to explore and experiment with everything. Sometimes I even indulge a little too much in both my work and hobbies *laughs*.
It is known that you returned to Vietnam to live and work in 2017 after a long time in Canada. At that time, the field you pursued was still quite new, so how did you start stepping into the Vietnamese market?
I started to approach the Vietnamese market when I was still working in Canada, through some collaborations with domestic brands. From such projects, I nurtured the intention to return to Vietnam to work.
I think my work (both Fashion illustration and Concept design/Art direction) in Vietnam at that time was indeed quite new, but there were many potentials and opportunities. I think one of the initial difficulties I encountered was getting used to the way of working in Vietnam because, in general, the work process, standards, and way of exchanging information in Vietnam are quite different from Canada. This is probably a kind of 'culture shock'.
Besides, when it comes to Concept/Art direction, perhaps for most people and sometimes even myself, this job is also difficult to define because its application is quite broad.
This is the first time Passii has had the opportunity to interview an Art director, a designer, an artist. Are you a person who loves beauty? How did you become interested in the fashion industry in general and design in particular?
Of course, I love beauty. Although there are some general standards, I think the definition of beauty will always change over time and also depends on each person's perspective. To me, sometimes beauty lies in the imperfections of small details that may not be perfectly crafted, but create a unique characteristic. It could be a monolid on an East Asian face, some smudged ink on an illustration, a slightly faded leather on an unnamed bag,...
After finishing my studies in Marketing, I chose to continue studying fashion design because I realized that fashion is an industry that I can easily access. This is a field that I see as leaning towards art but has practical applications and combines both creative imagination and problem-solving skills.
However, I am not sure if fashion will be the ultimate destination in my career because the longer I work, the more I want to focus on sustainable things. If I have to develop a product (not necessarily a fashion product), I feel that I would like to create something that lasts for decades rather than just one or two seasons.
In addition, the design principles applied in fashion can also be applied to many other design fields/industries. In my current job, I am not really limited to a specific field. For example, in addition to beauty and fashion, I also work on image projects, packaging design, brand building, and illustrations for clients in F&B, interior design, and technology industries both domestically and internationally.
What has many years in this profession brought you?
Many years in this profession have brought me... a stiff neck and sore shoulders! Just kidding, I think my career path has not been smooth and easy, but in return, it has given me autonomy and good adaptability. If I had to uproot and move to another country now, I think I would still be able to live well as long as I have my hands, eyes, and brain.
For me, the Vietnamese market and the psychology and behavior of customers here are quite special and completely different from my experiences in Canada. If I could turn back time, I would ask those who have been here before more to avoid wasting money and time on trial and error.
Your drawings often have a strong feminine quality and a certain lightness, freedom, and creativity. Is Ly in real life also a woman like that?
I think somewhere inside me, there is a woman like that. However, that is probably just one aspect of me, and as for how I am overall in real life... I may have to ask some friends around me to find out *laughs*.
Women are indeed a great source of inspiration for me. When I'm out on the street, I tend to admire women more often than men *laughs*.
Not only is Ly a talented artist, but she also has a good sense of style. What/who inspires you in terms of fashion? Can you name your fashion style?
When I was in Canada, a significant part of my job was trend research and analysis, which led me to try out many different styles. Also, due to the nature of my work, I had to stay ahead of trends, but usually, by the time those trends became widespread, I had already tired of them for a long time. I realized that I couldn't keep chasing that endless cycle.
This year, being 34 years old, I probably don't draw inspiration from any specific source anymore. Although I still keep up with trends, I don't feel the need to dress according to them, and I haven't been tempted by any designer brands for a long time. Having experimented a lot when I was younger, I know quite well what suits me best (and what suits the situation).
So in recent years, I have simplified my wardrobe a lot. I have reduced the colors in my wardrobe and only kept neutral tones, mostly plain clothes, so that I can mix and match them easily. I don't think I have a fixed style, but basically, I like highly functional, comfortable, contemporary, and minimalist clothes.
What is your favorite fashion item? What do you think are the must-have fashion items for every girl's wardrobe?
My favorite fashion item in general is high-waisted pleated pants, which helps to 'hack' height for someone like me who is only 155cm tall. A specific favorite item is definitely the Tunic from Pedram Karimi (a fashion designer from Canada) that I've kept for over a decade since I was still in school and was a novice intern for him. As for must-have fashion items for every girl's wardrobe, I think a little black dress, a pair of well-fitted jeans, a classic white shirt, a versatile blazer, and comfortable yet stylish shoes are essential.
The fashion items that I think every girl should have in her wardrobe are:
An upscale white T-shirt. If possible, I would recommend investing in one made with premium materials such as a silk-cotton blend. This type of fabric not only feels luxurious but also has a more polished look than regular cotton T-shirts.
Another must-have item is a high-quality blazer. Whether you prefer an oversized or fitted style depends on your personal preference and style, but the fit, fabric, and stitching are all important factors to consider. Investing in a well-made blazer is worth it as it can elevate any outfit, adding a touch of sophistication and elegance.
Finally, a black dress is a wardrobe essential. I prefer simple styles without too many embellishments so that it can be worn both day and night and can be styled differently with various accessories. A classic black dress is timeless and versatile, making it a great investment piece that can be worn for years to come.
If you had to choose one brand to wear for the rest of your life, which brand would you choose?
I think if I had to choose to wear one brand for the rest of my life... I would choose to make my own clothes! Making my own clothes would not be dependent on trends to find the perfect item. Additionally, making my own clothes would naturally be slower and reduce the risk of overconsumption and excessive shopping.
Thank you for sharing, Ly Truong.
#passiipeople is a series that introduces individuals with unique fashion styles and lifestyles that Passii admires through interviews conducted by the Passii team. They come from various fields but share a passion for fashion and a concern for the sustainable development of fashion in Vietnam. Passii launched this series with the aim of inspiring people to dress beautifully and elegantly. If you know any interesting individuals (or if it's you) that fits this description, don't hesitate to let Passii know via email at firstname.lastname@example.org