AO DAI

Many areas of the world have traditional clothing,  in northern Canada we focus of our multicultural development and learn about Vietnam’s national dress called, the ao dai meaning “long shirt” (pronounced “ow zai in the north;“ ow yai  in the south of Vietnam) Vietnam’s national dress consist of long tunic with a close-fitting bodice, mandarin collar, raglan sleeves, and side slits that create front and back panels from the waist down; and wide-legged pants, often cut on the bias. Often in the past, men and woman wore ao dai and still do today. However, in the twenty-first century it has started to become exclusively women’s fashion. The ao dai are commonly seen to symbolize traditional Vietnamese identity and femininity. It is a preferred uniform for civil servants; tour guides, hotel and restaurant staff in Vietnam and here in Canada through cultured places.  The ao dai is also worn for wedding, religious rituals and special occasions. In fact, the ao dai are a relatively brief history marked by foreign influence creating outstanding dresses.
disappeared. The ao dai The áo dài Le Mur, or "trendy" ao dai, created a sensation when model Nguyễn Thị Hậu wore the ao dai in an issue of Today newspaper in 1935. Saigon designers tightened the fit of the ao dai in 1950 to create the version commonly seen today. Madame Nhu, first lady of South Vietnam, popularized a collarless version beginning in 1958. The ao dai was most popular from 1960 to 1975. As time went on, brightly colored ao dai hippy was popularize in 1698. The ao dai mini was designed for a more practical use; it had slits that extended above the waist and panels that reached only to the knee.

AO DAI HISTORY




The ao dai provides a remarkable example of how history in Vietnam responded to both Chinese and French colonization by adopting elements of foreign cultures but modifying them to be antithetically Vietnamese. Preexisting in the fifteenth century, Vietnamese women typically wore a skirt (vay) and halter top (yem). Women's apparel was worn in brown or black, accented by brightly colored tops or belts on special occasions. These were sometimes covered by an open-necked tunic (ao tu than) with four long panels, the front two tied or belted at the waist. In 1407 to 1428, China's Ming Dynasty occupied Vietnam and forced women to wear Chinese-style pants. After regaining independence, Vietnam's Le Dynasty (1428- 1788) likewise criticized women's clothing for violating Confucian standards of decorum. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Vietnam was divided into two regions. The Nquyen family ruling in the south ordered their subjects to wear Chinese-style trousers and long, front-buttoning tunics to distinguished their subjects from the northerners. In 1802 the Nquyen family gained control over the country, the conservative Confucian Emperor Minh Mang (r. 1820-1841) banned women's skirts (vay) on aesthetic and moral grounds. Over the next century.the modern ao dai became popular in cities, at the royal court in hue, and for holidays and festivals in the countryside. Often you would see regional variations; the outfit consisted of pants and a loose-fitting shirt with a stand-up collar and a diagonal closure that ran along the right side from the neck to the armpit, both features inspired by Chinese and Manchu apparel. Elites often layered several ao dai of different colors, with the neck left open to display the layers. Among peasants and laborers, however, the vay and yem remained popular for daily wear. Today, the ao dai is more extinguished for wedding, religious rituals and special occasions.

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INTERNATIONAL INFLUENCE

International fashion was created when the ao dai fell into disfavor in socialist Vietnam. Many Vietnamese immigrated to the United States, Canada, Australia, or France preserved it as a symbol of their ethnic heritage. Ao dai can be seen at fashion shows, Tet (Lunar New Year) celebrations, weddings, and musical performances throughout the diaspora, which numbered approximately 2.5 million in 2003. The ao dai is influencing many non-asian designers like the Chinese cheongsam and the Japanese kimono inspired prints and patterns. In 1992 films Indochine and The Lover, both set in the French colonial period, Ralph Lauren, Richard Tyler, Claude Montana, and Giorgio Armani launching ao dai-inspired collections. While "Indo-Chic" fashions can be Orientalist in their celebration of a demure, flirtatious, and exotic Vietnamese femininity, they are typically welcomed in Vietnam as evidence that the ao dai has entered the canon of international fashion. The ao dai's twenty-first-century revival in Vietnam rests as much on this newly fashionable status as on its links to the past.

MODERNIZED AO DAI

Modernized ao dai may its first appearance at a Paris fashion show in 1921. Later in 1930,Hanoi artist Cát Tường, also known as Le Mur, designed a dress inspired by the áo ngũ thân and by Paris fashions. The garment reached to the floor and fit the curves of the body creating elegance by using darts and nipped- in waist. Over time as fabric became more affordable the multiple layers and think flaps disappeared. The ao dai The áo dài Le Mur, or "trendy" ao dai, created a sensation when model Nguyễn Thị Hậu wore the ao dai in an issue of Today newspaper in 1935. Saigon designers tightened the fit of the ao dai in 1950 to create the version commonly seen today. Madame Nhu, first lady of South Vietnam, popularized a collarless version beginning in 1958. The ao dai was most popular from 1960 to 1975. As time went on, brightly colored ao dai hippy was popularize in 1698. The ao dai mini was designed for a more practical use; it had slits that extended above the waist and panels that reached only to the knee.

AO DAI PRESENT DAY

Ao dai fashion design became more supported by the Vietnamese government when it was no longer deemed politically. A famous designer Le Si Hoang is a celebrity in Vietnam because many visit for those who admire the dress. The elegant city of Hue in the central region is known for it ao dai, non la (leaf hats) and remarkably fashionable woman. In other parts it is required by female teachers to wear (mostly high school level or below) and is also common for high students. However it is more solid and less patterns in uniform. Often ao dai will be seen in companies that require their staff to wear uniform such as; flight attendants, receptionists, bank female staff, restaurant staff and hotel workers in Vietnam.
 

GIRLS WEARING AO DAI

Today, the most popular style of ao dai is seen fitted around the upper torso, emphasizing her curves. However the dress is normally fitted to the entire body, it is often seen to be provocative because sometimes it is made in thinner materials. The dress is uniquely designed and fitted to the individual. It can take up to several weeks for a tailor to complete the perfect fit. The cost of ao dai can be about $200 in the USA and about $40 in Vietnam.  The ao dai is featured in an array of Vietnam-themed or related movies. In Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Robin Williams's character is wowed by ao dai-clad women when he first arrives in Saigon. The 1992 films Indochine and The Lover inspired several international fashion houses to design ao dai collections, including Prada's SS08 collection and a Georgio Armanicollection. The ao dai is seen at the annual Ao Dai Festival (outside of Vietnam) is held each year in San Jose, California, a city that is home to a large Vietnamese American community. This event features an international array of designer ao dia under the direction of festival founder, Jenny Do. The Ao dai is becoming more popular for girls in all parts of the world. As our world becomes more diverse we will see more girls wearing the ao dai in weddings, celebrations, Tet (Lunar New Year) celebrations and musical performances.