Ao dai should be widely spread in the world
11:39 | 16/02/2021
VGP – The ao dai has long been regarded as the traditional dress of Viet Nam, and now people are calling for the flowing garment to take centre stage in the world of fashion.

Miss Viet Nam 2010 Do Ngoc Han (second left), Miss Viet Nam 2016 Do My Linh (middle) and kids perform in an ao dai show in 2020. Photo courtesy of Ngoc Han

At a recent conference in Ha Noi, proponents discussed how to gain recognition for the ao dai as a national intangible cultural heritage and a world intangible heritage.

“The ao dai and the pride it gives us show the importance of the costume. It should be listed as a national intangible cultural treasure,” said Bui Thi Hoa, vice president of the Central Committee of the Viet Nam Women’s Union (VWU).

Associate Professor Dang Van Bai, a member of the Viet Nam Cultural Heritage Association, said the ao dai was a special dress with a long history of formation and development. The ao dai is synonymous with a chain of typical activities such as planting mulberry trees, breeding silkworms, weaving, designing and tailoring.

It can be seen everywhere worn by people of all ages. Thanks to its unique value, the ao dai should be nominated as a world intangible heritage, he added.

An ao dai collection by Spanish designer Diego Cortizas Del Valle a show in Hoi An last June. Photo courtesy of Diego Cortizas Del Valle
People’s interests

There is no double the ao dai is one of Viet Nam’s most popular, luring local and foreign fans with its almost hypnotic charm.

The dress is worn at important events such as wedding parties and festivals. It is also the formal uniform for students and a mandatory category in national beauty contests.

The ao dai has also won foreign friends’ hearts through fashion shows with the likes of singer Rihanna, model Tyra Banks and 2007 Miss World Zhang Zilin all sporting the look.

Vietnamese people at international beauty pageants have also been promoting the dress. Recently, Thai Thi Hoa, the Vietnamese representative at Miss Earth 2020, won a top prize in the national costume competition for the Asia and Oceania region. 

“The ao dai is one of the most interesting traditional dresses in the world. Not many dress are considered the symbol of a country but the ao dai is known across borders and many people identity it with the country,” designer Diego Cortizas Del Valle told VGP.

“It is a combination of a long tunic and trousers. It is a classic yet convenient dress. With the right cut, it helps women show off their femininity while it is easy to wear and drive a bicycle or motorbike,” he said.

During his 20-year stay in Viet Nam, Del Valle has produced many ao dai collectionsfor customers -- locals, expats and tourists.

“Many of them want to have at least one ao dai in their closets to celebrate special events. They like them a lot,” he said. “They said wearing the ao dai is a way toconnect with Viet Nam.”

Sharing the idea, Estonian Liisimari Randjarv said: “The ao dai is so smooth and flowing. It curves in all the right places and really enhances a woman’s beauty.”

“The ao dai is usually made of very smooth fabric, like silk. It’s a beautiful feeling and helps me to connect with the culture of my (Vietnamese) husband,” said painter Randjarv who decided to become a designer after being impressed by the dress at first time.

“The ao dai is very special. I understand that it’s a traditional dress, but it’s also widely used in modern society,” Randjarv told VGP.

After only three years, she has brought the dress to not only expats in Viet Nam but also customers in Finland, Estonia, Germany, Hong Kong and America.

“It deserves to be known worldwide,” she said.

More action

While the ao dai is becoming better known, more action is needed to make it much more popular domestically and internationally.

Hoa, vice president of the Central Committee of the VWU, said the union will continue mobilizing and organizing activities to promote the dress.

According to designer Sĩ Hoàng, the ao dai is really a symbol of the country.

“We should emphasize to our students and youngsters that wearing the dress is not just about beauty; it’s a responsibility and pride of the nation,” said Hoàng, who built the Ao Dai Museum in HCM City.

The museum is a rendezvous for citizens and tourists to learn more about the dress, which has not been acknowledged officially but is silently recognised by everyone.

Miss Viet Nam 2010 and designer Dang Ngoc Han also suggested ways to highlight the costume.

“The ao dai is amazing and I have brought my collections to many countries and received great feedback,” Han told VGP.

“People love it and want to know more about it and Viet Nam, and they have unintentionally become ‘ambassadors’ to introduce it to others,” said Han.

“We have many ways to honour our dress such as offering free tickets to people wearing them when they visit historic destinations; encouraging people to dress up for festivals and weekends and even normal days for walks in the ancient cities of Hue, Hoi An and Ha Noi’s Old Quarter… It will definitely lure foreigners and push them to join the movement,” she said.

“I believe that the more people wear the ao dai, the more they will love it.”./.

By Giang Ha

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