Dress designed by GVSU alumna worn by Grammy award winner

The band White Sun at the 2023 Grammy Awards. The lead singer, Gurujas, wears a dress designed by GVSU alumna, Ashley Trieu, '11.
Image credit - Image Credit: "White Sun group - Grammy award" by dr.space is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

At this year’s Grammy Awards, GVSU alumna Ashley Trieu saw a dress that she designed grace the red carpet on award-winning singer, Gurujas.  

“It was a little surreal, which I think is to be expected,” Trieu, '11, reflected. Over the years, she has seen her pieces worn to weddings, special occasions and even to the Sundance Film Festival, but for her, the Grammy Awards felt like a new level.

“As a music lover, and someone who has grown up watching awards shows like this, it was just surreal.”

Originally from Holland, Trieu graduated from Grand Valley after studying psychology with a minor in sociology. She received a full ride scholarship and was in the Honors College, opportunities that gave her the education, experience and empowerment to launch her career. From early on in her childhood, and even now, she’s balanced her love for psychology with her love for design.

“Actually, to this day, I still sew listening to psychology lectures. That’s also a passion of mine,” Trieu said.

As a child, she could be found playing in her closet, clipping together scarves and blankets to create outfits. Having designed professionally for 11 years, she designs for life’s big moments – whatever that may be for her customer.

“There’s a reason why super heroes change their outfits when they’re about to go fight crime,” Trieu says, noting how psychology and fashion intersect. “That’s kind of what I see my designs as doing. It’s a kind of uniform for whatever my customer wants to do and achieve.”

Much of Trieu’s inspiration is drawn from her upbringing. As the child of Vietnamese immigrants, she watched her parents sacrifice their dreams to help her get into spaces that they hadn’t had the opportunities to experience. “In a lot of ways, their dreams got put aside just to be able to make ends meet. And so I think they wanted to instill that in me. Their sacrifices were meant to pave the way for me.” 

Trieu remembers her mother bringing her along to fashion boutiques in West Michigan. From a young age, she was deeply inspired by the quality, design and merchandising of the designs.

However, not all experiences in these stores were positive. “I have memories of my family being profiled in these stores, making us feel like we didn’t belong there but even as a child, I was thinking, ‘I know I belong here. I know I have something to offer.’”  

In high school, she worked at a small boutique in Holland and would purchase vintage clothing from thrift stores. She taught herself to sew, altering the pieces she purchased to create her one-of-a-kind designs to wear or sell. From there, she began purchasing her own fabric to experiment with design and construction. She now sells full-time through her website, Iconoclasp, and through her Etsy page. 

All her work led to February 5th, where she watched Gurujas, lead singer of the band White Sun, accept the Grammy Award for Best New Age, Ambient, or Chant Album for White Sun’s album “Mystic Mirror.”

“I design with red carpet events in mind and special occasions in mind It felt amazing. I loved collaborating with [Gurujas] on this, it was great to be a part of her moment.”