Christine Phung is this sweet and kind young woman, with soft eyes and velvet voice. But she is also an ambitious and talented fashion designer. Having won two of the most prestigious French prizes and with five collections under her signature, she has now gained her place in the Parisian Fashion week schedule. She received us in her Paris based studio, with a glass of wine to celebrate her new buyers, won over by her last show.
How did you launch your brand and first collection?
I made my very first own collection to compete for a prize that no longer exists, the Mango Fashion Awards. And it was thanks to that collection that I won the Fashion Paris Prize instead! So I created another one to be able to take part on the Parisian Fashion Week Designers Apartment, and then the whole thing was on! At first, I wanted to create a whole wardrobe, including accessories. But I have left them aside for the moment as I'm waiting to grow bigger to release them again in a proper way…This first collection was sold in exclusivity for Veja's concept store Centre Commercial in Paris. It’s an eco-friendly place where everything sold is made in France. Today, we have five stockists around the world, Paris' Montaigne Market, and Frenchologie in London amongst others.
And you also won the ANDAM Prize last year..!
Yes; ANDAM Prize is a great support, with a professional network and founds, and also provides logistics help. With this prize I gained the support of the Galeries Lafayette. With them I had the opportunity to sell my collection at their high fashion floor as well as getting an important support to organize my two last shows during Paris Fashion Weeks.
What did you do before creating your own label?
I left IFM (French Fashion Institute) ten years ago, and since then I've been working for brands such as Chloé, Baby Dior, Vanessa Bruno, Veja… I kept some of those free-lance jobs over the years, and now I'm still consulting for many various brands and doing occasional collaborations, for example for the Mandarin Oriental's uniforms. 
How long have you been thinking about launching your own brand?
I already had this project on my mind when I was a student. But I was aware that creating my brand would have been too difficult for me at the time. I wouldn't have known how to do it. Moreover, I had seen so many talented people die and some ungifted people succeed… That I was pretty sure the difference was not in the talent, but in the management and communication strategies. So, I decided to cut my teeth first, working with brands before leading my own project to life. I wanted to keep on learning in order to build my network; and I had the chance of being surrounded by people I admired a lot, like Olivier Zahm and Christophe Lemaire.
How do you work on a collection?
The clothes we make are a play on colors and matter, and also a play on functions. For now, each season has been about nature, natural environments, phenomenas or sensations. But there is no rule about how I choose a theme. Then, I work with those big moodboards full of images hung on the walls that help me stay focused on the story I want to tell.
What about your latest collection?
This season, everything came from this very special muted sensation we can feel when we are on the snowy peaceful mountains. The collection is entitled “An escape to the mountains”. At first, I got inspired by a picture of Charlotte Perriand, arms up and naked chest, facing the mountains. I was struck by her elegance, her daring freedom. So I figured out the story of a woman who goes out at night, surrounded by glorious mountains. I pictured the moon's reflections on the snow, wood's cracks on a chalet fireplace… Referring to Perriand, I worked on a 30's aesthetics, mixed with revisited lines inspired from skiwear. We embroidered Swarovski crystals on cashmere wools, we created very graphic woolen patchworks, conceived a pattern with the designer Daniel Hurlin, weaved a woolen pattern with the fabric manufacture of Malhia Kent…
Talking about your brand, you're saying ‘we’ pretty often… How important is team work for you?
We are a team here at the studio, and we work as a team. This is essential, because the rhythm in fashion is just too intense, the required technical skills are too demanding and the amount of work is simply too high for a single person to handle alone. I often consider myself as a boatswain with a whole crew helping me to sail at every point of the crossing. Every team-mate has a very precise role and everyone is important. I also like to establish creative collaborations, with artists or craftspersons, those encounters make us go further in our work.
Do you think giving your own name to a label can be risky? How do you protect yourself and position yourself form your brand?
Giving one’s name to a label can be risky, for example when the company gets opened to stockbroking. But I'm still an independent brand, so its not a question for me to ask myself yet. What is closer to me is the risk that identity and activity could be mixed up together. Trying to avoid this requires a strong and rich personal strictness, to keep a good distance with the brand. It’s all a very exciting experience indeed!