Christine Phung’s tranquility is surprising. Listed for the first time in the official Parisian ready-to-wear calendar (last September 24), it is with extreme courtesy and peaceful words that she receives us in her workshop on rue du Faubourg-Saint-Antoine . Born in Levallois in 1978, this Franco-Cambodian says she is obsessed with “identity, skin, body architecture, narration, movement”, and has offered, since 2011, colorful and refined silhouettes: a particularly refreshing lightness, without recourse to purity. When we parade on the Galeries Lafayette rooftop, do we think back to our beginnings? Yes, especially since out of spite, I had turned away from fashion at 9 years old, my aunt, who was graduating from the Duperré school, told me that there were no opportunities. At 18, passionate about oil painting, I studied Fine Arts at Rueil-Malmaison. It allowed me to dabble in painting, but also photography, video, sculpture and a little architecture. I felt the need to make art applied “to life”, to reality, to industry. Styling, combining volume, textiles, design, graphics and space, allowed me to continue all these exciting things. I was taken to Duperré. It was only then that I remembered that this was my original dream! You continued with the French Fashion Institute, why? IFM seemed essential to me to know how to calculate business plans, understand the language of managers, be in contact with markets, targets, etc. There, I realized that I had to wait a few years to launch my brand. The profession is extremely complex, energy-intensive, expensive and quite mysterious in the alchemy it requires. So you made your mark with others for eight years… I wanted to understand the organization of the big houses. I started with internships at Kenzo, Sonia Rykiel, then Jean Paul Gaultier. After the IFM, Christophe Lemaire hired me. What followed was an atypical two-year experience in men's sportswear with Homecore. Then return to fashion at Chloé, Vanessa Bruno, Dior, for the children's line, Lacoste. From these experiences I kept the taste for mixtures, I like to hybridize couture and sport aesthetics, I also discovered the possibility of doing the mental splits for several clients at the same time, flexibility, adaptation, the all-terrain creative. Difficult, the beginnings alone? The first problem is having stores that actually order and pay. The second is to ensure the daily management of a company: administration, financing, management, prospecting, invoices, production control, while retaining time and freedom for creation – it is schizophrenic and two-headed! But it offers the possibility of being a conductor, it's very versatile, it's intense! How was your first collection, Light Diffraction, born? I had refined my working methodology, I had a small network, some savings, so, in 2011, I said to myself: I'll take the plunge! I was inspired by the diffraction of light, imagining the story of a girl who fell to the bottom of a mine of red diamonds, this ambivalent color linked to Eros and Thanatos, symbol of love and blood, of death and life, renewal, revolution. I liked the idea of ​​fragmentation and reconstitution, of the prism distorting and diffracting the light into multiple colored bursts. I worked with very graphic pleated fabrics and created a “fractal” print. You won the Grand Prize for Creation from the city of Paris in 2011, and that for First Collections from ANDAM last July. Does it boost? I use each competition as a pretext to create, to concentrate, to gather strength and to unite and structure the participants around a very clear objective with a deadline. Then, in the middle of the process, when things are well constructed, I explode the framework, I try to go beyond it, to transcend it, the channeled energy thus allows me to go much further. What experiences influence you? Mental photos of lights, smells, shapes and textures from my travels. New York struck me with its energy that I felt so much that I had insomnia; Tokyo disoriented me, I felt illiterate there; Siem Reap [Cambodia] shocked me with the jungle taking over the architecture, the humidity, the softness, the violence and the beauty. Many works inspire me: the contemporary sculpture of Anish Kapoor, Xavier Veilhan, Antony Gormley, the light of artists Olafur Eliason, James Turrell, the atypical aesthetics of architects Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, the free and dreamlike photographs by Ryan Mcginley and in cinema, the new wave for its humor, and David Lynch for his sensual mental universe. You mix old artisanal techniques and new technologies... I like to revisit pleats, patchwork, embroidery, lace and shift them, whether through very modern graphics, colors, or even unexpected proportions. I work with the textile designer Tzuri Gueta [Israeli patent holder for silicone lace, Grand Prix de la Création de Paris 2009] or the traditional pleater Monsieur Lognon, whose workshop already existed under Napoleon III. You created your first two collections in a psychiatric hospital! Yes, my uncle, a psychiatrist in Phnom Penh, helped me set up a mini sewing workshop in his hospital. We had transformed a bedroom into a workshop. I produced micro-series of silk dresses and tops there, with women from the neighborhood. In the end, I noticed my exhaustion in controlling quality, the language barrier, the problem of distance and supply. I keep the bead embroidery there, the rest is repatriated to France.