History of "ao dai" revealed in Saigon exhibit

By Mai Nhat   July 1, 2020 | 02:00 pm GMT+7

An exhibition on periodic changes in the traditional dress of Vietnamese women over 100 years will run in Ho Chi Minh City till July 2.

The ao dai exhibit is organized along Saigons Nguyen Hue pedestrian street to mark the 44th anniversary of the day Saigon-Gia Dinh was officially named after Ho Chi Minh. Dozens of outfits from ao dai Museum are on display, depicting their historic development.Ao tu than (four-part dress) had been worn by Vietnamese women since the 11th century. According to fashion designer Si Hoang, ao tu than used to be made of brown fabric without buttons, women normally tying them up while working. Older women wore dark plastrons inside their ao tu than, while the young opted for red or pink.

The "ao dai" exhibit is organized along Saigon's Nguyen Hue pedestrian street to mark the 44th anniversary of the day Saigon-Gia Dinh was officially named after Ho Chi Minh. Dozens of outfits from the Ao Dai Museum are on display, depicting their historic development.

"Ao tu than" (four-part dress) had been worn by Vietnamese women since the 11th century. According to fashion designer Si Hoang, "ao tu than" used to be made of brown fabric without buttons, women normally tying them up while working. Older women wore dark plastrons inside their "ao tu than", while the young opted for red or pink.

In the 19th century, ao nam than (5-part dress), formed from two pieces of fabric, gained popularity. The four parts represent parents of the women and their husband, the fifthone is for the wearer themselves. The outfit always had five buttons, representing Five Constant Virtues in Confucism, including Kindness, Decorum, Uprightness, Wisdom and Faithfulness. Northern women in the early 20th century usually wear ao nam than with buttons moved from the front to an opening along the shoulder and side seam in order to show their necklaces.

In the 19th century, ao nam than (five-part dress), create from two pieces of fabric, gained popularity. The four parts represent the parents of married couples, with the fifth symbolizing the wearer themselves. The outfit always had five buttons, representing Five Constant Virtues in Confucianism, including Kindness, Decorum, Uprightness, Wisdom and Faithfulness.

Northern women in the early 20th century usually wore "ao nam than" with buttons moved from the front to an opening along the shoulder and side seam in order to show their necklaces.

In the 20th century, Nguyen Dynasty were strict when it came to wearing ao dai in the palace. All patterns, matarials and designs were regulated carefully. As the dyed fabric can be faded easily, ao dai the place were hung and put in wooden boxes with incense instead of being washed.

In the 20th century, the Nguyen Dynasty, Vietnam's last feudal rulers (1802-1945), were strict when it came to wearing "ao dai" in the palace. All patterns, materials and designs were regulated carefully. As the dyed fabric could easily fade, "ao dai" at the palace were hung and put in wooden boxes with incense instead of being washed.

Renovated dresses with a host of styles and designs were born by artist Nguyen Cat Tuong in 1934. These new designs included collarless, puff shoulder, short sleeves dresses, etc.

Renovated dresses depicting a host of styles and designs were created by artist Nguyen Cat Tuong in 1934. These new designs included collarless, puff shoulder, and short sleeve dresses.

From right to left: high-collar ao dai, ao dai with raglant sleeves and midi ao dai. In the 1950s, the popularity of corsets made women prefer ai dai chit eo (ao dai with the waspy waist) with high collars to show their curves. In 1958, director Thai Truc Nha invented ao dai with boat necks, helping women show off their shoulder and feel more comfortable while wearing the outfits. In the same year, raglan ao dai (a dress with raglan sleeves and a diagonal seam that runs from the collar to the underarm) was also created. Midi ao dai consists of three pieces, two in the front and one behind.

From right to left: high-collar "ao dai", "ao dai" with raglan sleeves and midi "ao dai". In the 1950s, the popularity of corsets made "ao dai chit eo" (ao dai with waspy waist) with high collars fashionable in showing off curves. In 1958, director Thai Truc Nha invented ao dai with boat necks, helping women show off their shoulders and feel more comfortable.

In the same year, "ao dai" with raglan sleeves (a dress with raglan sleeves and a diagonal seam that runs from the collar to the underarm) made their debut.

Midi "ao dai" consists of three pieces, two in the front and one behind.

From right to left: hippy ao dai, hand-drawing ao dai and brocade ao dai. Later 1950s, young Saigonese were influenced by American lifestyle with Life fast, die young motto, so they opted for colorful ao dai with lightweight materials and floral patterns.In 1989, designer Si Hoang started combining art with the traditional outfits by introducing ao dai with hand-drawing patterns such as leaves, flowers, ancient patterns, etc. One year later, designer Minh Hanh took a further step by using brocade fabric for her ao dai.

From right to left: hippy "ao dai", hand-drawn "ao dai" and brocade "ao dai". Later in the1950s, young Saigonese were influenced by the American "Live fast, die young" motto, so they opted for colorful "ao dai" with lightweight materials and floral patterns.

In 1989, designer Si Hoang started combining art with the traditional outfits by introducing "ao dai" with hand-drawn patterns such as leaves, flowers, ancient patterns, etc. One year later, designer Minh Hanh took a step further by using brocade fabric on her "ao dai".

The exhibition also introduces wedding outfits of several ethnic minoritiesin Vietnam and ao dai fashion shows every night.

The exhibition also introduces wedding outfits popular among several ethnic minorities in Vietnam.

Ao dai designed by Vietnamese designer Thuan Viet were introduced in a fashion show on June 27, 2020.

"Ao dai" designed by Vietnamese designer Thuan Viet were introduced at a fashion show on June 27, 2020.

The exhibition, held local authorities,  attracts thousands of Saigonese and will end on July 2, 2020.

The exhibition, held by local authorities from June 26, has attracted thousands of Saigonese.

Photos by Quynh Tran

 
 
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