Some of the best things about Hanoi? It’s the place where East meets West, fashion meets architecture, architecture meets culture and where culture meets Chula.
I have heard of Diego Cortizas for a long time, perhaps a decade long from a work opportunity in Westlake area of Hanoi. Diego is the founder and designer of Chula, an architect-turned-designer who has been living in Vietnam for 17 years. Diego is perhaps the only foreign designer who has been attending every single Vietnam’s fashion week.
Once you know Chula, you will also develop the ability to notice if someone wears a Chula. It’s just hard not to recognize the look of a typical Chula dress.
Every Chula dress has a Spanish spirit, it’s the feeling of happiness through shades of striking colors and custom design patterns.
Moreover, what makes me as a Vietnamese so proud is that Diego has a genuine love for Vietnamese adventurous beauty and culture, as it will be easy for you to find your favorite Ao Dai at Chula, or a typical Chula dress with fabrics and brocade weaving from Vietnamese ethic minorities.
Chula is also known as of famous social enterprise in Vietnam as the company has been helping disabled employees generate a stable occupation. Helping Diego create those unique fashion items are a Vietnamese staff that have been accompanying him since the beginning. About 80% of them are disabled people, mostly deaf and mute. Diego decided to hire them after an encounter with a deaf and mute woman 14 years ago, who introduced him to sign language. Diego found something in common with them regarding the fashion industry, which is all about visibility.
Diego also believes that as human beings we all have some sort of disabilities. For instance, the fact that a foreigner living in Vietnam who could not speak the language and unable to communicate with the local community would make him a kind of a disabled person. “I think even the most intelligent person has some disabilities,” he said, “Some people may be very good at Math but bad at English, or some are good at social studies but bad at finance. We think people with physical disabilities are similar. They might not be able to hear or speak but are extraordinary at other things, such as colors, compositions, handwork. And they teach us lessons about overcoming difficulties”, said Diego.
You may now visit Diego and Chula on their website or to visit them at one of their physical stores:
Chula Fashion House: 43 Nhat Chieu, Ha Noi | Monday to Sunday from 09:00-18:00
Chula Saigon: 32 Trần Ngọc Diện, Hồ Chí Minh | Monday to Sunday from 10:00-18:00