If there was one place where Paris meets Chinatown in the chaotically organised way possible, this was it. The colonial European architecture of the buildings with its terraced patios and trellis-walled foliage set the scene, only to be filled with bowls of pho, crazy traffic that only Asians are able to achieve, and humidity out the wazoo.
Culturally, Hanoi has been greatly influenced by the French, evident, not only in their food and architecture, but also in design and crafts. During my trip, my eyes caught sight of some beautifully designed bags that uses reclaimed fabrics with patterns that are uniquely Vietnamese, developed by Valerie Cordier. Tribal seems to be the growing fashion trend now, and her bags are the epitome of that - original and bold, with plenty of spunk and story to tell!
I haven't quite figured out if they're available online yet, but I found her bags in the Tan My Design Cafe in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, and I know she also has them in boutique stores in Paris and Melbourne if you just so (luckily) happened to be living in those cities!
Upholding a largely unappreciated heritage is a passion also shared by Myriad (1A Au Co, Tay Ho, Hanoi), a fashion, home & lifestyle brand, that we stumbled upon quite by accident! They just opened their loft studio less than a month ago. Everything - the website, the unpacking, order management - is still in-progress, but for now though, if you're in Hanoi, check out their space... it is such a social, casual environment, that it feels less like shopping and more akin to going to a friend's house for a little tete-a-tete (although technically, it is their house since they live upstairs!)
"In Myriad, we collect moments, not things." As I watch their 2 precious puppies and bumbling bulldog wander around their studio, I could not agree more.
We bounced back and forth between the two extremes; from brunch at the chic Sofitel-Legend Hotel Metropole Hanoi (where we were greeted with a demure "bonjour!") to Vietnamese coffee and condensed milk at a road-and-lakeside stall, from browsing a made-to-order French perfumery, to walking the grounds of the Temple of Literature.
But my goodness... the food? I'll let the photos do the talking!