A brief guide to luxury-shopping in Hanoi, Vietnam to help satisfy the needs and desires of even the most discerning shopper.
by Donna Bramhall.
Hanoi’s historic old quarter is originally famous for its 36 shopping streets, all named after what they still sell to this day. Occupied and overflowing onto the pavement, artists and merchants wield their wares among the energetic local life and screeching mayhem of motorbikes.
Hanoi clusters together in a funny fusion of antiquated French architecture against the rapid erection of superstructures for a new generation of both ambitious and cosmopolitan Vietnamese. But after living in Hanoi for more than two years I can honestly say that shopping is one of my least favorite experiences. This is somewhat contradictory, as I am known as a dedicated fashion connoisseur. The traffic is intense, roads have non-existent sidewalks, petrol polluted air is unavoidable, and every time you need to cross the road you feel like you are literally dancing with death.
So where does one go to escape the stress of the city and treat yourself to a spot of retail therapy?
With a few exceptions, most of the international luxury and aspiring Vietnamese design houses are centrally located in the slightly quieter French Quarter. Off the southeast shores of Hoan Kiem Lake, you can stroll past the majestic colonial architecture housing a small yet adequate selection of your favorite affluent brands and emerging homespun designers.
SOFITEL LEGEND METROPOLE ARCADE
(15 Ngô Quyen) –– Strategically located around the corner from Hanoi’s Opera House, this French colonial five-star hotel surpasses all other places to splurge on timeless elegance. The ground floor is home to opulent brands like Cartier, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Hermes, making the Metropole spending grounds for some of Hanoi’s most extravagant visitors.
TRANG TIEN PLAZA
(24 Hai Bà Trung // 9:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.) — The vanguard of luxury fashion in Hanoi, Trang Tien Plaza houses the crème de la crème: Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Kenzo, and Burberry. You name it. If the major brands aren’t there, then they can be found on neighboring Ly Thai To St.
(13 Hai Ba Trung // 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.) — Possibly the most trendsetting store in Hanoi, Runway stocks an exquisite range of ready-to-wear collections from exciting European and American designers. Big names such as Alexander Wang, Chloe, Peter Pilotto, Emilio Pucci, Alexander McQueen, and J.W. Anderson (shall I go on?) are just the tip of the iceberg that Runway dedicates it rails to. It is 300sqm of cutting-edge class that caters to every fashionista’s deepest desire.
(61 Ly Thái To // 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.) — With 20 years of experience, Luala sells luxury items for men, women, and children, besides home wares. The stylish lifestyle and concept boutique entices sophisticated fashion-forward clients with show-stoppers such as Dolce & Gabbana, Dries Van Noten, Elie Saab, Manolo Blahnik, Oscar De La Renta, Paul Smith, and Victoria Beckham. Luala believes its success over the decades is due to its stellar customer service.
(43 Nhat Chiêu // 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.) — Since 2006, the smiley Spanish couple Laura and Diego Cortizas have been bringing Eurasian inspirations to life as wearable art. Not only are both’s Hanoi shops fantastically decorated with a fair ground of kitsch cultural trinkets, but also, every fabulous and colorful design has been handmade using the finest materials.
(83 Xuân Dieu // 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.) — Located in Tay Ho, Module 7 gallery sells a combination of contemporary Vietnamese art, interiors, fashion, and accessories. The shop stocks award-winning local designer Kilomet 109, whose comfortable and timeless designs combine both simple ethnic details with homegrown organic cottons, hemp, and traditional natural dyes.
RUE DE CHATS
(2 Co Tan // 9:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.) — An adorable Parisian style fashion house founded in Hanoi. In-house designers Anhuong Tran and Le Minh cater each season to Hanoi’s feminine fashion lovers with classic silhouettes, pretty prints, and delicate lace details.
THUY’S DESIGN HOUSE
(9 Tràng Tien / 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.) — Fine artist Thuy Nguyen never formally trained in fashion design. After making clothes for herself for many years, she successfully opened her first store in 2011, attracting hoards of modern Vietnamese women who love both their heritage and having fun at the same time. Thuy’s latest collection of bold and beautiful ao dai, dresses, jackets, and skirts are richly embroidered on outlandishly “colorific” silk brocades.
(Hàng Tre // 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.) — A sophisticated urban unisex label taking inspiration from Asian countries, traditions, and cultural aesthetics. Vietnamese, Japanese, and Chinese patterns, textures, and details are combined with oversized draped silhouettes to create a moody Oriental street style.
(19 Tràng Tien // 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.)
Valenciani’s creative director, Adrian Anh Tuan, designs specifically for the city-slicking, globetrotting, and confident fashion fanatic with a feminine sense of style. Adrian says Valenciani women are not afraid to express themselves, and in doing so can be expected to be loved in return for the way they look. When Adrian is not behind the mannequin masterminding his latest collection you can find him presenting popular TV fashion shows such as “Vietnam’s Next Top Model” and “Project Runway.”
(5 Nha Tho) — Flamboyant, fun, and eclectic accessories can be found at the house of Ipa Nima, where bags, purses, and other keepsake statement pieces are cherished by loyal customers from around the world. Ipa Nima’s founder, Christine Lu, combines the eccentric bold with quality craftsmanship, using only the best materials and employing French trained technicians to bring her imagination to life.
Tanmy Design House
One of the oldest family textiles stores in Hanoi, Tanmy’s lineage spans over three generations. Originally renowned for its historic embroidery and silk handkerchiefs, the three-storey department store is now famous for stocking high-quality Vietnamese artisan fashion and home wares from up and down the country.