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Meo Vac: Market, Ethnic Minorities & Ma Pi Leng Pass

haute culture fashion blog black dao vietnam meo vac

“Put your money where you mouth is” holds a whole new meaning to the Black Dao and Hmong women living in the mountains of Ha Giang, North Vietnam. A sparkling smile catching the light across a corn field can symbolise a few meanings to the unsuspecting onlooker in the ethnic minority market towns of Meo Vac and Don Van.

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Countries Life on the road Vietnam

That Time I was a Guest Judge on Vietnam’s Next Top Model

vietnam next top model eva de eva haute culture studio

On the 7th of August I was delighted to be flown to Ho Chi Minh City to be a guest judge on Vietnam’s Next Top Model for the fashion label Eva de Eva. Eva de Eva is a contemporary fashion brand specialising in sophisticated daywear collections, as a sponsor of Vietnam’s Next Top Model it was my role as their brand representative to deliver the assignment and judge the models on their forth coming photo shoot.

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Countries Life on the road Moung Traditional Dress Traditional Dress & Textiles Trends Tribes Vietnam

Mong women of Mai Chau: Folk Ballads and Betel Nuts


Smiling ear to ear and ecstatically happy to see me, they heckled me over to join them waving a bottle of something alluring above their heads. Before I sat down my tea cup was filled with a black liquid and Chúc sức khoẻ was cheered in the air. The ladies were obviously in the prime of their life and enjoying each other’s girly company on a hot and hazy day. The reasonably pleasant tasting black liquor was some kind of home brew made from herbs and rice wine. It wasn’t their first, nor would it be our last.

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Countries Life on the road Vietnam

Fears, Farewells and Fernweh: Haute Culture hits the road

donna bramhall haute culture blog

So it’s the evening before I leave Hanoi after 2 years. It’s been a while since I blogged and I feel this deserves a brief update just to ground myself, keep those who are interested in loop and quite frankly step back and observe. To say my life has been ridiculously insane in the past 2 weeks doesn’t quite cut the mustard.
(Reading time 6 mins)

lcdf fashion show 2015 hanoi vietnam

London College for Design and Fashion Annual Fashion Show 2015 Finale

I’ve left my first ever full time job. I saw my beautiful and talented / pain in the ass students host their exhibitions. I watched in awe as their arduous creative endeavours strut down the catwalk on 6ft models to an audience of over 900 guests. They hugged me backstage and after I cried with exhaustion, pride and love for those little monsters, and they did the same. It was extremely emotional time for everyone when I had to say farewell. Teaching at LCDF has taught me more about myself then any of my students probably ever learnt from me.

Immediately after (like the next day) I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime to be a guest judge on Vietnam’s Next Top Model in Ho Chi Minh City!!! Sounds great huh? Reality behind the shiny Instagram filters is that I have always secretly suffered from severe pre flight anxiety. I had to seek support through councelling, hypnotherapy, natural (and not so natural) drugs together with a lots of hand holding to just board the plane. I’m embarrassed to admit that I literally feel like I’m going to die every time I fly. I’m proud to say that I faced my fears and came out the other side stronger, richer and happier for it.

Alive and kicking in Ho Chi Minh City on my way to be a judge at Vietnams Next Top Model

Alive and kicking in Ho Chi Minh City on my way to be a judge at Vietnams Next Top Model

I returned to Hanoi and I said good bye to my best friends and colleagues, moved out of my gorgeous little house and reduced 95% of my accumulated possessions to fit in a mere 20 litre back pack. I checked my bank account today and surprisingly I’ve saved enough cash dollar to travel for nearly 2 years! Pretty banging achievement  if I say so myself. Now is the time to figure out why, how and where I’m going to research cultural costume and fashion around the world. I couldn’t be happier to be pursuing the career that i’ve always wanted.

August 5th 2015 officially unemployed

August 5th 2015 officially unemployed

After a disastrous start to the year back in January, I feel truly blessed to say I fell happily in love once more, but sadly at the most inappropriate time of our lives. Amid this madness I’m trying whole heartedly to let go with peace but everyday is heart breaking as we walk in opposite directions and the distance between us grows. And now my 7 month long plan to travel with a dear friend from the UK is currently on hold because I literally feel like I cant tell the difference between my head and my arse.

As for Haute Culture i’ll figure all that out on the road. Get ready for tribal encounters, sartorial street style snap shots and traditional textiles galore. My first priority is to redesign the blog and get up to date with a back log of fashionable events and adventures that are yet to be published. (Actually thats not true, my first priority is to sunbath, sleep and be kind to myself at the moment, the blog is a super close second.)

Vision wall opposite my bed counting down the last 7 months

Vision wall opposite my bed counting down the last 7 months

I recently came across a new word “Fernweh” (n.) An ache for distant places; the craving to travel.

I’ve been literally counting down to this day for the last 7 months! I have no idea when I’m coming back to the UK. So i’ve finally I’ve come to the conclusion that all I need is a bigger, better, and more badass looking motorbike. Tomorrow morning I will ride off alone to Mai Chau on my spanky new Lifan, with very little idea of where I will go next. As my mate Dan would say “be a leaf in the wind”. I have wifi speakers to play music on the road, a hula hoop to re-bond with, a real map!! (as well as google maps) and a first aid kit just incase.

All I know right now is that I can totally do this. I can travel, research, write and be totally fucking awesome at what I do (whatever that turns out to be), and despite my previous doubts I’ve realised once again that I don’t actually need to rely on anyone else. Im feeling brave and a bit erratic, but I’m ok with that,  I think it’s only natural right?

Please send me love, light and luck as I embark on the adventure of my life. I thank you all for your support with my whole heart and invite you to join me all the way???