It’s time to celebrate women with inner strength. An extraordinary mind can be discovered in every woman we know.

From London to Hongkong and Saigon, Julia has inspired many young people to find their confidence and develop their skills.

Here, she shares her fashion sense, memorable impression of the people and cultures from Europe to Asia and also The Middle East, and her life-changing moments

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Hello Julia, what brings you to Vietnam?

I had visited RMIT Vietnam a couple of times for events and was very impressed with the fashion work and the team delivering the programme. I also loved HCMC so when I heard that they were looking for a discipline lead for the fashion area I applied and got the job. I felt that there was a real opportunity here to make a difference, working with a developing industry in a fast-growing environment where there are a lot of opportunities for young people to get into fashion.

Can you share with us your favourite spots in town?

I have already found some favorite spots like Prem bistro in District 3. I am a vegetarian and they do the best vegetarian food. Tram Cafe in Phú Nhuận District because the setting is magical and I love Koi fish; they have the most amazing collection.

The crescent lake in D7 where I live, I love to watch people here and there are lots of dogs. I miss my french bulldog Barney who is now back in the UK with my son. The Crescent is also where I go to the Centuryon gym and work out with Kelly my personal trainer; and I take painting classes with the lovely Ms Thao at Erato Studio.

You shared that you have passion for travelling. What are the most memorable places and the best feelings in the world for you?

I have been lucky to travel extensively in my work and to visit some places I would never have been to otherwise. Some of the most memorable are Uzbekistan, Syria and Bangladesh. Uzbekistan was memorable for the amazing hospitality of the people and the rich mixture of cultures that have influenced their textiles.

I think my favorite city is Istanbul, it is a crossroads between east and west with amazing architecture, fabulous food and I love the markets; especially the ceramics which are so colourful.

How do you dress for everyday and on vacations? Does your fashion style express your personality?

I would describe my style as smart casual, I wear a lot of black and white and add a splash of colour such as red or pink through my accessories.

I like classics with a bit of a twist, I also look for good quality and try to support local designers/ businesses. I never buy anything just for the logo, in fact I own very few big brand names. I do own some McQueen scarves but that is because I love the prints and the quality of the silk. I think of my clothing in terms of pay per wear. I am willing to spend a lot on something if I know that I will wear it often and it is classic that will last a few seasons. I also like to think in terms of sustainability, I don’t like throwaway fashion and I always try to pass on my clothes or recycle them when I know longer want or need them.

On holiday I pack the bare minimum I try to just take cabin baggage as I have had experience of losing my luggage more than once. I love to swim so a selection of bathing suits and beach wraps are essential otherwise it shorts t-shirts and one or two loose cool dresses;I look for things that will not crease easily.

What kind of clothing and accessories do you feel connected with? What special about it?

I have some items in my wardrobe that I have had for many years and I still wear them; a black jacket with chinese embroidery is one example. I bought it in 2005 and people still comment on it when I wear it. The other is a pleated silk evening dress that was designed by a friend of mine Tonia Bastyn. I love her clothes; she really understands what women like to wear and the cuts are always interesting. I have worn the dress to many special occasions and parties so it has a lot of memories attached to it.

Looking how you enjoy wearing your clothes right now, what are the stories behind them?

The blue dress I bought from a local brand Bunga, I had the sleeves altered to suit my style, I love the cut and it is very well made. The white shirt is from Shanghai Tang a well-known brand in Hong Kong where I used to live , this was given to me by a friend because it didn’t fit her anymore. I like to recycle clothes and often swap things with friends. I love the simplicity of the cut and the lovely knot button detail. The chinos are from Marks and Spencer; they have been making this style for some time and I have bought them in navy, black and cream. I find it difficult to find trousers that fit well and work with the weather here; these are perfect and good quality.

How would you make your clothes matched with? 

I commissioned a tailor here in HCMC to make a shirt from some beautiful red silk that I found in a store in District 1 . The colour is stunning and it has a Chinese motif woven into the fabric that is subtle but pretty. I can dress it up for an evening with silk pants or down for daywear with jeans. I have a pair of red tassled earrings with Chinese knots that go perfectly with it. People always comment on it when I wear it and it is extremely comfortable.

Could you share about your decision to become a lecturer, especially in major of fashion?

I studied a BA in fashion and textiles and then went on to a Masters Degree at the Royal College of Art in London. I started to teach part-time whilst designing my own knitwear label and doing freelance work. After doing part-time teaching alongside my own work for a while I was offered a full-time job managing a National Diploma Course. By this time I had my daughter and teaching fitted better with my family life.  I found that I loved teaching and so I studied for a Doctorate in Education at Surrey University. I worked at Croydon College for 11 years running the fashion area and then moved on to London College of Fashion where I stayed for 18 years in several roles. My last role was as Associate Dean of the School of Design and Technology. I worked on a lot of International projects whilst at LCF and that work gave me the motivation to move to Asia. Before joining RMIT in Vietnam I worked at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Most universities are looking for lecturers with a combination of industry experience and qualifications, it is becoming more difficult to get into higher education as a lecturer as a lot of universities now require a doctoral degree.

What are you most passionate about your work?

I love watching the students develop their skills and confidence. As a teacher I want to ensure that the students get the best experience that I can give them and to prepare them for the reality of the industry that they are entering. I love working with clothes and textiles but I am also passionate about changing the wastefulness that goes on within the fashion industry. I try to teach my students to make conscious decisions about the materials and processes that they use.

How does your everyday look like?

I get up at 5:30 do the plank exercise for as long as I can hold (current record is 8 mins) then I go down to the pool do 600 jump ropes and 20 lengths. After my workout I feed my pet guinea pigs and let them have a run around while I have breakfast. At 08:00 I head out to work on my lovely refurbished Honda Cub scooter.

If it is a teaching day then I will normally have a class at 09:00- 12:00. I grab a quick lunch in the staff canteen where I catch up with colleagues. The afternoon will usually be a mixture of meetings and administration or an industry visit. We try to work closely with industry to provide the students with authentic projects and activities.To be honest no two days are the same which is what I love about my work. I get to meet people from all over the world and in different areas of the industry from manufacture to media.

In the evenings there are often work-related social events to attend or I will go to the gym for a training session or yoga. I usually attempt the Guardian Cryptic Crossword before going to bed, it helps me to relax and also trains your brain to think laterally.

Have you ever been through a life-changing moment. How was that experience?

I have recently been through two life-changing events. The first was the end of my marriage of 28 years and the second was discovering that I had breast cancer. I view both of these events as positive influences. Being single again has enabled me to travel, meet a lot of new people and make new friends and also to spend more time doing the things I enjoy like painting and hiking.

Having cancer changed my attitude to life, I realised that I spent a lot of time worrying about things that were really not that significant. It has made me appreciate everything that I have and made me more adventurous. I am now a much happier person then I was before the diagnosis. It has been treated and my prognosis is good so I intend to enjoy life and have more adventures, the next one will be becoming a grandmother in September.

Which people or books have had the most influence on your growth and why?

My mother has been the main influence on my life; she brought up three children on her own whilst running a photography business. She is now 81 and has a number of health issues but still spends time doing things to help others like knitting hats for charity. She never complains and is always there with some sensible advice or a kind word when needed.

The book that had the most influence is “The Creative License” by Danny Gregory, I read it at a time when I was no longer doing the things that gave me joy because of my workload at that time. After reading this book I began to draw and paint again. Painting is my therapy, whenever I get stressed I pick up a brush and start painting.

How would painting be part of your daily life?

My paintings are mostly figurative and inspired by nature and my love of colour. Usually I paint animals, flowers and landscapes that have a meaning for me. I have a painting of my dog Barney hanging in my lounge; it is a fantasy piece where he is floating on a lily pad, it combines several of my favourite things, water lilies, koi carp and a dragonfly. I am just starting my first attempt at a portrait of my daughter, I miss my kids who still live in the UK and painting them is a way of feeling connected.

Besides painting, what do you do in leisure time?

Painting and designing and making jewellery are my two main hobbies. I started painting about 5 years ago; I started with watercolours but now also work in oils and acrylics. I started making jewellery about the same time. I work mostly in silver with semi-precious stones but recently designed and made an engagement ring for my son. Fortunately, his fiancee loves it and I was really flattered that he trusted me with such an important commission.

Kieu Linh, wandelust, leinnéwoman

The freedom in lifestyle and passion for adventures give Ms.Kieu Linh a natural beauty. She decided to quit a job to pursue her number goal in life, Kieu Linh shared that every place she has been to have been memorable in its own way, because travel is not only to see but also to feel.

# LeinnéWoman # LeinnéMoment #WanderlustAmbi, hat, Saigon, Leinné 

It was a pleasure to know you. Can you tell us how did you discover Leinné?

My philosophy in fashion is everything I wear should mean something. For example, my current favorite pieces are Yem (my own brand) clothing, Rothy’s shoes responsibly made from recycled water bottles, and jewelries made by my friends. Knowing this, a friend of mine, owner of Lo Boutique in Saigon, told me to check out Leinne as it was created by someone with a similar mindset. I was instantly hooked. Leinne immediately became one of my favorite Vietnamese brands.

Leinné Apartment, Saigon

Can you tell us more about your journey from the US to Vietnam?

I’ve lived in the US for over 16 years and even though in some ways I am more American than I am Vietnamese, Vietnam is in my blood and I always knew I had to be back. After quitting my last corporate job in 2016, I decided that my new venture as an entrepreneur had to be something that can help people, especially my people, the underprivileged Vietnamese. So I came back to Vietnam, stayed for 9 months and eventually started Yem, a sustainable fashion line that aims to showcase Vietnamese traditional crafts to the world.

Do you have a place in the world that you call home? How does it make you feel?

Home is a very loose term to me. I guess it is because I have been moving around (from house to house and from city to city) all my life. For me, home is the place where you feel safe, comfortable and free to be yourself. Currently, I have four homes: Los Angeles (where I officially live with my boyfriend and puppy), Hanoi (where I grew up and where my mom still lives), New York (where I lived for many years and where I still have many close friends) and Saigon (where I initially found the urge to stay in Vietnam and where most of my Vietnamese friends live).

Ambi, Leinné, Saigon

It looks like you share our passion for travel. Tell us about the most memorable places that you have come by and your experience?

One of the reasons both my boyfriend and I decided to quit our jobs was because we wanted to pursue our number goal in life: freedom. We want to be able to be free to be anywhere in the world anytime we want to. Every place I have been to has been memorable in its own way, because to me traveling is not to see a place but to feel it. I don’t travel to “check the box.” I travel to learn about the world, about cultures, about people and about myself. I am currently learning Spanish because next year I want to take on South America, together with the boyfriend and the pup (he is also one heck of a world traveler for a dog). I find that more than the historical sites and the scenery, what make traveling truly worthwhile are the people, which is why being able to communicate in their language can make a world’s difference.

The best feelings in the world for you?

Tough question :).

I love the feeling of peace whenever I look at water, whether it’s the ocean, a river or a waterfall.

I also love cooking and entertaining, so watching my loved ones eat and enjoy my food is very rewarding.

Recently, with the creation of my new brand Yem, I feel amazing every time I wear one of my pieces, especially when I receive compliments for them.

Saigon, Leinné, Ambi, hat, raffiahatmaker

What are your next travel destinations?

I travel domestically in the US a lot for occasions like weddings and other get-togethers. The next couple ones will be New Orleans and maybe Lake Tahoe, Seattle, Portland. Internationally, my boyfriend and I plan to visit Oaxaca, Mexico, to taste Mezcal (our favorite booze) then Peru (to climb Machu Picchu) and Chile (to taste wine) after we come back to Vietnam for Lunar New Year 2018. For work, I plan to go to Kashmir, India, soon to spend time with my cashmere artisans.

How do you dress for everyday and on vacation?

I like to combine style and comfort. Recently, I have been wearing a lot of my own pieces because I design them to be versatile and my silk can be worn in different climates. Because I no longer work in the office, my everyday style is pretty the same as my vacation style. In general, I like to wear a simple dress, my Rothy’s flats and one of my Leinne hats if it’s sunny. I also always keep my Yem cashmere scarf in my bag so I can keep warm in places like the grocery store, the movie theatre and the restaurant.

What kind of clothing and accessories you feel comfortable in?

Simple, sophisticated with a hint of sexy. I like clothes that are loose/covered-up enough to be comfortable and form-fitting/revealing enough to make me feel like a woman.

I don’t wear a lot of accessories. Recently, my boyfriend got me a jade bracelet for good luck and I got myself 2 bangles with Hanoi and New York’s coordinates to remind myself of where I came from, so I have been wearing them 24/7. I occasionally wear my favorite necklaces made by a friend.

Leinné, Lune, hat, raffiahatmaker

It looks like you are occupied with a lot of new ideas and projects. What do you think about the role of working women?

I grew up around working women so as a kid I never knew there was another way. I always had ambitious dreams about who I wanted to become when I grew up, most of them involved owing my own business. Now at 35, I am surrounded by all kinds of female friends from around the world, some work and some don’t, who share one thing in common: they are all amazing. I think a lot of factors affect the woman’s decision to work or not, and whatever they choose, as long as they are happy and are respected by their family and society, it’s the right decision.

 

What are you most passionate about your work?

The fact that I am doing something meaningful, beyond just “making money.” Yem is a luxury fashion brand with a focus on social good. Yem takes sustainability and responsibility to the next level. It is my way of providing the best of the best to my customers while helping as many people as I can along the way. Yem is the reflection of who I strive to be as a person and as an entrepreneur: follow your passion, give rather than take, act with good intentions from the heart, work hard and work smart, and you will succeed, in life and in business. For more info on my work, check out yemcollective.com.

Lune, hat, flower, Leinné

Photographer: Jamie Longg
Art direction: Hai Minh (Mimi)
Content editor: Nghi Tran
Leinné Women - Bistro - Annie - Lusiné

The spirit of optimism and positive energy are what Ms.Annie brings to everyone. For Annie, the smell from her mother’s dishes; sounds of nature; the hug of her beloved one; summer, sea, gelato or a moment to reward yourself 4 hat at the same time are best feelings in the world. She will be with Leinné for an afternoon walk around leading to her favorite bistro to share her story and journeys.

# LeinnéWoman # LeinnéMoment #Bistro

It was a pleasure to know you. Can you tell us how did you discover Leinné?

I accidentally discovered Leinne through an Instagram post. It was random, I remembered the first time I saw the blogger wearing her hat, it was like love at first sight. So I did a bit of research and visit Leinne apartment. I fell in love with every single piece, every little detail that I know the owner must put so much love into this space.

It looks like you share our passion for travel. Tell us about the most memorable places that you have come by and your experience?

Yes , I was lucky enough to travel to a number of beautiful places. But by far for me, London always holds a special place in my heart.

It is a unique city with a very special atmosphere and and incredible energy. I have been to London as a solo traveller twice, both trip was very memorable to me. With plenty of resting spots such as a bar of cafe,  I can easily chill with a cup of cappuccino or a good drink just like any British would do. I like also very much of London morning sunrise with charming empty streets and squares.

I plan to come back to the capital city of Britain next year when the sun is out, because I really miss the Blood Orange Sorbet & Ricotta and Sour Cherry gelato from Gelupo. It gives me real 10 minutes of happiness 🙂

Annie- Bistro- Délice hat- Simone bag- Words of Love

You worked as a fashion buyer in Australia for almost 10 years. How was that experience?

Yes, it was the best thing I have ever done in my 20s. I worked as a part-time retail assistant when I was in university. I was good with numbers but I know I was better with clothes.  I always love shopping and dressing up for my friends on occasions. A year after my graduation I decided to switch from my office desk back to retail industry and worked my way through every corners of the company at that time.

From retail manager to head merchandiser/ buyer, I just love the job more and more everyday. Together with the board, we proudly grow the company from 7 to 15 retail locations across Australia in 2017. Looking back, I was really happy with the journey I have gone, the career that I have built. It gives me so much more, not just about fashion,      it is also the people I have worked with. They are amazing experience.

Annie- Bistro- Délice hat- Simone bag- Words of Love

Annie- Bistro- Lune hat- Simone bag- Saigon

What are your next travel destinations?

Next week, I am going back to Australia with my mom to visit my brother for about a month. I am looking forwards to long overdue catching up sessions with all my favourite people, enjoying beautiful weather, good food and great coffee.

Annie- Bistro- Lune- Simone- Saigon- Lusiné

Can you share with us your favourite spots in town?

My favourite place to get my caffeine fix daily is Shin. Just like their slogan, they are really the “best coffee in town”. Books or laptop, my day will be just right. My most-go-to brunch spot in Saigon must be L’usine. I love their interior design, delicious menu and great ambience. I usually opt for the coconut juice and a healthy salad for sunday brunch with the girls.Annie- Bistro- Délice- Simone- Words of LoveHow do you dress for everyday and on vacation?

To be honest, half of my wardrobe is black . It is my favourite color and it goes just fine with my go-to-work accessories. I dress in black three times a week and trying to put some colors on every other day. When I am on vacation mode , my wardrobe can turn into a summer party. I like florals and a lot of florals, bright colors and as many hats as possible 🙂

What kind of clothing and accessories you feel comfortable in?

I love the simplicity of black and white , classic tailor and shape that lasts for years. I used to buy a lots of clothes as a buyer, that gives my a drawback in selecting my own styles. I tend to buy less now, but invest more in high quality and unique pieces that I will wear comfortably for many occasions. I collect more hats every year, because they can do a makeover for my outfits in just minutes.

Do you think of anything you would like to do in the next few years?

I am thinking to create a platform / website where women can hire or borrow their outfits to wear on different occasions. My best friends and I are fond of the idea of sharing the wardrobes and we found that there are not so many affordable options for occasional wears in Saigon. Therefore, I hope to continue to be a buyer and adviser on my own, styling and making women looking more beautiful everyday 🙂

Annie- Bistro- Lune hat- Simone bag- Saigon- Lusiné

Photographer: Jamie Longg
Art direction: Hai Minh (Mimi)
Content editor: Nghi Tran
Anna saigon promenade

“It was a serendipitous encounter with Anna in Hoi An. 

And coincidentally too, our encounter in Saigon a few weeks later when she stepped into Leinné Apartment and I happened to be there.

In my life I’ve always believed in chances and moments, and I felt completely lucky for having known Anna, who also has a Vietnamese name: Hanh

Vietnamese – American, born and raised in Hawaii, she visits Vietnam from time to time and now heading to France to pursue her passion: dance.”

About Anna- from Leinné founder, Hai Minh 

Hello Anna, 

What brings you to Vietnam?
I came to Vietnam this summer primarily to visit family and for an internship.                 

My mother is from Hanoi and the last time I visited Vietnam was 15 years ago! After finding my internship, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to reconnect with family I hadn’t seen in years.

You shared with me that you are passionate with ballet and dance. How did you discover your passion?

I started dancing when I was five years old. I remember sitting in front of the TV, when some sort of ballet clip or commercial came on and I was struck by how graceful the dancers’ movements were. I turned around and immediately told my parents I wanted to dance. Luckily, they supported my decision and I have been dancing ever since.

raffiaDelicéhat-Marionbag- Anna Hanh- Ben Thanh market

I have to admit that I spent most of my time in District 1 and although it felt like I was exploring non-stop, the city is so huge that it’s impossible to see everything in just one month.

One of my favorite places was Chợ Bến Thành. I didn’t do much shopping, but I would just walk through the labyrinth of vendors and get lost and overwhelmed by the sensory overload. When I finally made my way out I would usually find somewhere to sit down and have a fresh smoothie.

raffiaDelicéhat-Marionbag- Anna Hanh- Ben Thanh marketI also loved walking along Dong Khoi street looking at the French colonial-style buildings and spending my afternoon reading in one of the many cafés.                           

I somehow got lost late at night in District 7 with two great friends. The streets were completely deserted and it really felt like a ghost town as we seemed to be walking in circles through a residential area. Thankfully we made it out but it was a memorable adventure.

 

I was born and raised in Hawaii, one of the most remote places on the planet.

Travel has always been very special to me.

Some of my most memorable places I have come by are in Europe. I love how easy it is to travel from one country to the other to immerse yourself in a completely different language, climate, cuisine, etc.

 

raffiaDelicéhat-Marionbag- Anna Hanh- Ben Thanh market
My favourite moments come from just walking around, observing how people go about their day, following my nose into delicious restaurants and especially meeting and interacting with people.

Actually, one of the most memorable and serendipitous moments on my trip to Vietnam was meeting Mimi (Hai Minh) in Hoi An! Who knew that we would briefly meet and then reconnect again a couple weeks later?

raffiaLunehat-raffiaJumboSolitobag- Anna Hanh- Ben Thanh market

raffiaLunehat-raffiaJumboSolitobag- Anna Hanh- Ben Thanh market

I was born and raised in Hawaii, so it would be the most appropriate place to call home. Hawaii is such a beautiful place to call home, but it was hard to grow up far away from family and to have many of my closest friends move to the mainland U.S.  

So, does Hawaii feel like home? Definitely, but I’ve found other places that also felt like “home,” especially when surrounded by good company and loved ones.

raffiaLunehat-raffiaJumboSolitobag- Anna Hanh- Ben Thanh market

raffiaLunehat-raffiaJumboSolitobag- Anna Hanh- Ben Thanh market

How do you dress for everyday and on vacation?

I tend to keep things simple and like to wear versatile pieces. Dresses are probably my favorite to wear and I often wear nice blouses with a simple pair of pants.

On vacation, I dress pretty much the same; however, I put a lot of thought into what I’m packing. I’m a super light packer – I try to only bring a carry-on even for several weeks. I pay more attention to fabrics when I travel and try to pack things I can get away with not ironing if I have to.

What kind of clothing and accessories you feel comfortable in?

I feel most comfortable in clothes that fit me well. I avoid fussy clothing that I have to adjust as I’m walking and go about my day. Since I like to keep things simple, I usually keep my accessories pretty minimal. I don’t wear a lot of jewelry, but I always have a bag with me and wear a lot of hats and sunglasses to keep me protected from the tropical sun.

Who is your role model? Are you inspired by any women?

I can’t think of a specific role model, but your second question makes me realize that most of the people I’ve looked up to have been women. It’s hard to have a celebrity as a role model, since you never really know what that person is like, but I think we all have people in our lives (friends, mentors, relatives) that have a certain strength that we really respect.

raffiaLunehat-raffiaJumboSolitobag- Anna Hanh- Ben Thanh market

Do you have plan to come back to Vietnam soon? What are the places that you want to go in Vietnam?

I would love to come back to Vietnam within the next year or two. I loved my trip! The colors looked so saturated, the food was delicious and above all, the people were so genuine and lovely. I started my trip in Hanoi, went up a bit further north to see where my grandparents were from, and then slowly made my way down to Saigon by car. I didn’t get a chance to go any further south of Saigon, so I would love to visit the Mekong Delta area the next time I visit.

Photographer: Jamie Longg
Art direction: Hai Minh (Mimi)
Content editor: Nghi Tran