Hadlee Tonthat on his passion for fashion

Hadlee Tonthat pictured at the Yerba Buena High School Tet Trung Thu Festival. Photo by Ngan Luong.

SAN JOSE, CALIF.— Fashionista Hadlee Tonthat embraces his love for couture runways and frequently mentions his plan on how to take on the designer fashion industry overall.

First experiencing a spark of interest after coming across Elle Woods’s iconic fashion looks in “Legally Blonde” and runway pieces by Maison Margiela on Pinterest, Hadlee was utterly intrigued by the elegant, iconic designs of mini skirts and abnormally large jackets. His first true depiction of the fashion world was through binging “Next in Fashion” on Netflix. “I watched it so many times. I loved Angel Chen and Minju Kim’s collaboration the most,” he recalled.

In an attempt to grow in fashion design, Tonthat struggled to find opportunities to allow him to do so. “There’s not any fashion design clubs at our school. I was going to start one but there’s no point. People would join for me and not the fashion,” he said in disappointment. He expressed his way of coping from having limited opportunitiesby making do with what he has. Tonthat has worked hard to excel in art class with a large variety of drawings, although there has only been several weeks of his ninth grade so far. Tonthat has also collected fashion books, started a small embroidery business and put together an impressive Pinterest board. Tonthat’s biggest fashion designer inspirations are himself and Coco Chanel. 

Tonthat’s watercolor and marker cheetah print design. Photo by Hadlee Tonthat.

Tonthat’s true motive behind growing to become a huge fashion designer is to be “influential, famous, rich and die pretty.” He believes that a successful career in fashion will ultimately allow him to get that. Tonthat partakes an interest in fashion because it is something that he feels allows him to express himself.  “Fashion is something I really love because it lets me be an artist. The body is like a canvas and my style is of course very revealing,” he explained. 

As Tonthat’s passion for fashion lies particularly in couture wear, Alessandro Tricone’s Spring/Summer 2017 “gender-bending” looks set quite a major inspiration standard for his sketches and designs. Guo Pei’s Spring 2018 collection was another captivating walkway collection the fashionista admires. Tonthat expressed that his ultimate dream is to design a gown for a celebrity attending the MET Gala. 

When Tonthat is in his natural habitat, he loves to dance. He has learned the entirety of LISA’s “LALISA” choreography and is a member of both the SCHS Choreo and K-pop clubs. Tonthat also centers his time around expanding his social circle and making his presence known. His iconic, girl-boss personality is definitely fitting of his fashion designer dreams. 

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