Vietnam Time

5/17/2018 8:05:17 PM

Streets of San Jose spring to life with Vietnamese ao dai

(VNF) - Vietnamese designer Do Trinh Hoai Nam recently brought his latest fashion collection to an Ao dai festival in the U.S.

The ao dai is a traditional Vietnamese outfit — a long tunic worn over pants, worn by women and men. Starting in the 18th century in the south of Vietnam, the ao dai has grown from a regional nod to tradition to something much bigger: a national symbol of Vietnamese beauty.

In recent years in San Jose, the ao dai has become something else yet again: a cultural point of pride most Vietnamese-Americans  can get behind.

"It is neutral. It is something that everyone agrees is beautiful," says Trami Nguyen Cron, on the Ao Dai Festival’s steering committee. The author and founder of Chopsticks Alley, a nonprofit featuring Southeast Asian Artists in the Bay Area, adds, "Let's come together to celebrate being one, being Vietnamese!"

Hoai Nam’s collection of designs opens the Ao dai festival in the U.S. (Photo: Mai Thu Trang)

His collection is inspired by Ao dai (Vietnamese traditional dress) from all three regions in Vietnam.

Ao dai in the northern region are inspired by the Ao dai styles worn by old Hanoian girls. They are made of white fabric and accessorised with pearl jewellery.

Ao dai in the central region use purple as their key colour. The colour is popular in romantic Hue City. The dresses are designed in a modern style.

Ao dai in the southern region are inspired by images of old Saigon girls. The designs capture the rich vibrancy of the city.

The San Jose festival was developed by a local attorney, Jenny Do, who came to the U.S. in 1975. Cron explains, "They want to be connected to their culture, and this is an easy way for them to do it."

In 2017, Do successfully lobbied California to name May 15 Ao Dai day in honor of Vietnamese culture.

This year's theme in San Jose was a "Confluence of Rivers," and festival filled a whole day with fashion, music and dance, starting with a weaving project in the Circle of Palms outside the San Jose Museum of Art. At 4 pm, there was a fashion walk - slash - march from City Hall to the Circle of Palms. At 5 pm, there was traditional music and dance, and finally at 5:30 pm, a cocktail reception and dinner inside the Fairmont Hotel.

The fifth Ao dai festival was held in San Jose on May 12th.

Apart from Do Trinh Hoai Nam, other designers participating in the event included Duc Hung, Khanh Shyna, Chau Nguyen, Tuan Tran, Diep Quoc Thanh, and Bao Han Instyle. 

After the Ao dai festival in the U.S, designer Do Trinh Hoai Nam will continue to promote Vietnamese Ao dai at the 71st Cannes Film Festival in France.

Hoai Nam brings his Ao dai collection to France with designs featuring the national flags of 46 world countries and an evening gown collection for celebrities to wear as they dazzle on the red carpet./.

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