As a kid, French-Vietnamese designer Khanh Brice Nguyen, was dreaming about becoming a comic book artist. He has always celebrated the traits that make each individual unique. His mum was a seamstress, so he was also passionate about textiles crafts heritage. Fashion would naturally become the perfect medium to tell his story. In Paris, he first interned at Dior, where he admired how knitwear designers would create from scratch, starting with the yarn, inventing their own material and designing shapes from there. Afterwards, he worked in Dior’s knitting mill in Northern Italy. It was a very hands-on experience, he was knitting all day and being taught by passionate elderly Italian ladies who shared their lifetime of knowledge with him. This is where the designer fell in love with the craftsmanship of knitwear.
So when Khanh attended London’s Royal College of Art to do a masters in Fashion Knitwear the following year, he had the technique but was searching for the expression. The first thing he did when he settled in London was to enroll in dance classes, which would later go on to change the way he thought about fashion design at large. It taught him to sync with what his body was telling him. “That is when I clicked and knew I’d do knitwear that wouldn’t be obstructing to the body, that would let me and others express ourselves through our bodies,” His MA collection, «Mindful Noise», was built around a music performance in collaboration with a contemporary dancer. The making process was guided by a music mix that Khanh prerecorded which included sounds of machinery metallic clanking and other studio noises. This mindful, sound-driven approach brought spontaneous pieces which colors, textures and shapes were designed from accidents.
Khanh Brice Nguyen became notorious for his sensual, statement knitwear which celebrates — not hides — the body beautiful. For instance, the collection he released after graduation, called OULÍ, means “scars” in Greek. The designer plays with traditional, reinterpreting knitted undergarments or T-shirts in a contemporary, experimental way, challenging traditional knitting techniques with technology. «I think nowadays many people want to embrace their body and express themselves through the way they dress, especially within the queer community.» His designs are very much a response to them.
As Khanh’s body of work grew beyond the proper approach to knitting, he started linking up with other graduates and emerging designers whose work he respected. He opened a design studio, KBN Knitwear, to support other Designers whom he admires and align with his views on personal identity, body positivity, sensuality and the lot.