THE MEANING OF POWER DRESSING
W/ MARIA VAN NGUYEN
Photography: Maria Van Nguyen
Meet Maria Van Nguyen, designer and photographer, based in Oslo with a background in fashion at Uniqlo in Tokyo and The Row in New York. Her work is often drawn to quiet, overlooked scenes with her main inspiration always coming from nature. ‘The message I want to convey in my imagery is subtle: to evoke feelings of connection, and ultimately inspire people to live consciously in consideration with animals and the environment.’
There’s no doubt that there can be huge amounts of power in the quiet and subtle. Power is freedom, freedom is growth, growth is change, and change doesn’t happen in one big bang overnight. Big changes are based on small, subtle yet consistent steps, which compound over time and fuse big results.
Fashion is one of the few safe spaces to explore identity and the concept of ’power dressing’ referring to a particular style, commanding respect, conservatism, and boldness – might ultimately have lost its power. This spurs the questions – what does it mean to be powerful today and how does that reflect in the way we dress?
What does power dressing mean to you?
“Wearing clothes that express something is the first step, the second is to carry the weight of it, and fill it with intent.”
When do clothes stop being clothes and start to become symbols of strength, defiance, and resistance?
Throughout history, certain garments have been defined as more powerful than others, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will bring that power to anyone who wears it.
Wearing clothes that express something is the first step, the second is to carry the weight of it, and fill it with intent. The more confidence – the less dependent we become on clothing to show who we are. That strength, defiance and resistance can ultimately only be found within.
What garments or traits in a person give hen authority according to you?
My respect is earned when I meet a person with empathy (ability to listen, value different perspectives, understand interconnectedness), vulnerability (open, honest, courage to give and receive) and confidence (trusting and believing in themselves, and others).
What garment/accessories or other empowers you at the moment?
Rather than one thing I have slowly, carefully brought things into my life that provide me with value. Whether it is clothes, objects, work, or relationships – I focus on a selected few and make sure that they add joy and good energy.
Do you dress to fit a certain situation or is it up to the given situation to fit the way you dress?
Neither. Outfit and situation don’t necessarily have to go together. I dress as who I am, how I feel. I will wear the same look for a casual day as I would to an event. I don’t see the reason to save a garment solely for a specific occasion – versatility in a piece is one of the main factors that weigh in when I make a purchase.
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