The timeless beauty of “Ao Dai” has never ceased to inspire fashion designers in Vietnam to honor the grace and elegance of Vietnamese culture. Throughout the history, Vietnamese has undergone various modernization to have a one-of-a-kind look like today and suit different tastes of Vietnamese people in each era. Wedding, Lunar New Year’s Celebration, graduation day, or any special occasions and diplomatic events you name it, Ao Dai always stand out as Vietnamese women’s top choice of fashion and national symbols. From wrapping up a bit about the design of Ao Dai through time, we will also take a look at the new trend in bringing back the vintage style of Ao Dai in Vietnam!
Generally, Ao Dai is a slim-fitting silk tunic with long side splits from the waist, worn over palazzo-style trousers. In fact, it is under the influence of Western fashion techniques that the gown was formed with two elegant panels reaching to the ground. It also used Western style in applying “raglan” sleeves on the body part of the dress to eliminate the clumping of material under the armpits and enable women to move more comfortably. The front panel was connected with the back one of Ao Dai by buttons lining from collar to armpit and continued along one side of the hip.
As you can see, the popular form-fitting style of Ao Dai tightened at waist helps to elegantly highlights the graceful curves of Vietnamese women. However, adaptation to modern life has also led to the modernized version of Ao Dai which shortened to panels of Ao Dai and allows women to wear culottes and skirts inside it instead of long trousers. Usually, they will have knee-length panel design and the looser pants or skirts to make it look more casual, yet still graceful.
The waves of young people choosing Ao Dai as their outfit-of-the-day has gained more and more popularity especially after the movie “Co Ba Sai Gon” (The Tailor – 2017), which successfully honors the timeless beauty of Ao Dai by reviving the traditional culture, but at the same time, breezing a “revolutionary” retro vibe into Vietnam’s national costumes.
Thanks to the hard work of fashion designer Thủy Nguyên, her collections for the movies which include many 1960s-inspired Ao Dai dresses have triggered a “vintage” fashion trend among Vietnamese youngsters. Ao Dai in the movies were in a Pop Art style and have patterns borrowed from the geometrical elements of Saigon’s vintage tiles and mosaics. All of these not only bring out the nostalgia but also creates a new look for Ao Dai, making it more attractive and visually gorgeous in the eyes of young Vietnamese.
All in all, the ageless beauty of Ao Dai inspire more young people to put them on under a vintage style to keep the delicate and gorgeous feature of the national costume.
By Nguyen Thu Thao, ASEAN Correspondent from Vietnam